Current Special Exhibitions



February 10, 2019 – August 25, 2019

Main Special Exhibition Space

Purchased Lives: The American Slave Trade from 1808 to 1865 illustrates the pain and injustice of the American domestic slave trade, illuminating just how widespread the practice of slavery was in American life, as well as its impact on enslaved families across the country.

This exhibitionoriginally curated by The Historic New Orleans Collection, showcases more than 75 original artifacts, slave narratives, and oral histories. Through interactive displays, visitors engage directly with historical record by tracking the shipment of more than 70,000 people to New Orleans. Purchased Lives also contains a collection of “Lost Friends” ads placed after the Civil War by newly freed people attempting to locate Illinois family members.

Exhibition by The Historic New Orleans Collection.

Docent led tours of the exhibition on FREE days
Saturday, February 16 – 11:00 am and 1:00 pm
Saturday, February 23 – 11:00 am and 1:00 pm

Learn more about the exhibition.



Activists and Icons: The Photographs of Steve Schapiro

October 7, 2018 – October 27, 2019

Northern Trust Gallery and The Joseph L. & Emily K. Gidwitz Memorial Foundation Gallery

Activists and Icons: The Photographs of Steve Schapiro, shows, through powerful documentary photography, that the issues of the civil rights movement are still deeply relevant today. Forty-six large-format photographs tell the stories of seminal moments in history from the March on Washington (1963) to Robert Kennedy’s presidential campaign (1968). Among the images are emotional portraits of heroes both known and unknown, ranging from Rosa Parks and James Baldwin to an unnamed sanitation striker.

Learn more about the exhibit.




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