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Vivian Maier's Chicago work presented at larger-than-life scale at the Chicago History Museum
The exhibition invites visitors to take a walk through a maze of over 35 hanging 4-foot by 4-foot prints designed to surround visitors. Photo: ©Vivian Maier/ Jeffrey Goldstein Collection.

CHICAGO, IL.- The Chicago History Museum has brought to life Chicago as seen by photographer Vivian Maier. For the first time Maier’s Chicago work is being presented at larger-than-life scale, vividly documenting Chicago places and faces in the loop, the city’s west side and the northern suburbs during the 1960s and 70s.

"We consider it a privilege to be the first public museum to showcase Vivian Maier’s work," said Gary T. Johnson, president, Chicago History Museum. "Chicago is a place that can be seen from millions of different perspectives and these images paint a portrait of the city unlike any other."

The exhibition invites visitors to take a walk through a maze of over 35 hanging 4-foot by 4-foot prints designed to surround visitors in the Chicago Maier knew in the 1960s and 1970s. Along the perimeter wall of the exhibition is a continuous frieze comprised of film rolls from18 journeys Maier made in the Chicago area, including walks through Maxwell Street in 1967 and Grant Park during the 1968 Democratic Convention.

"We feel the best way to characterize her work is remarkably human. With no plan but to shoot what she saw, she created an extraordinary photo diary of an ordinary life that decades later is still universally interesting,” said Richard Cahan, who is co-curating the exhibition with Mike Williams. “We have produced the exhibition images at larger than life scale to create an experience that goes beyond viewing her work in a gallery.”

Maier was born in New York City in 1926, spent much of her childhood in the rural Alpine region of France, returned to New York in 1951, and then moved to the Chicago area in the mid-1950s where she remained until her death in 2009. She spent her adult life working as a nanny to a series of North Shore families, spending all her free time and money on her passion, taking pictures.

She would travel far and wide with her camera to places like Los Angeles, Egypt, Bangkok, Italy and the American Southwest, but Chicago was home to Maier, and during her free time in the city she documented her life as a nanny as well as excursions throughout the area. Vivian Maier’s Chicago will be the first time her work will be presented with only images taken in and around Chicago.

Maier’s work was unveiled to the world in 2007 when boxes containing thousands of prints, negatives and undeveloped film were found in a storage locker and auctioned off in Chicago. Since its discovery, her collection of work has soared in public popularity and artistic importance.

Images for Vivian Maier’s Chicago come from the Jeffrey Goldstein collection (Vivian Maier Prints Inc.) Acquired in 2010, the Goldstein collection includes over 15,000 negatives, 1,000 prints, 30 homemade movies, and numerous slides. They document Vivian’s European years prior to her early 1950s stay in New York continuing through her Chicago years from 1955 into the early 1970s.

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