The Richard H. Driehaus Museum in Chicago, Illinois, is housed within the historic Samuel M. Nickerson House, the 1883 residence of a wealthy Chicago banker. The Driehaus Museum displays Gilded Age American design, architecture, and decorating tastes and the art nouveau era in permanent and special exhibitions.
The interior of the Museum features the opulent marble, onyx, carved exotic and domestic woods, glazed tiles, and stained glass of the Gilded Age America. On display are original furnishings from the era along with American and European decorative arts of the late 19th and early 20th centuries, including art nouveau furnishings and several works by Louis Comfort Tiffany.
The Main Hall of the Driehaus Museum incorporates 17 types of marble as well as onyx and alabaster in its design, which gave rise to its nickname The Marble Palace in the late 19th century. The Driehaus Collection includes significant works by Louis Comfort Tiffany plus elegant Favrile glass, vases, furniture, accessories, and stained and leaded-glass windows.
Exhibits of the Driehaus Museum
- The Main Hall
- The Main Hall is the generous decorated with marble in a dramatic hall that gained the mansion its nickname, “The Marble Palace.” The hall was sparsely furnished with furniture pieces that were beautiful but not but intended as only a temporary resting place.
- The Reception Room
- The Reception Room combines walnut marquetry panels and vivid tiles, creating an impressive artistic effect. The monumental mantelpiece which extends from floor to ceiling and includes carved ram heads and a large mosaic depicting an Italianate courtyard.
- The Front Parlor
- The Front Parlor showcases quality craftsmanship and design, from the carved panels of the frieze bordering the edge of the ceiling to the furniture that complements the theme of the room.
- The Dining Room
- The Dining Room features elaborately carved oak interiors of the dining room feature motifs associated with hunting and the harvest.
- The Drawing Room
- The Drawing Room has a lighter color scheme signifying the space that women would “withdraw” to following the dinner before being later rejoined by male guests. The furnishings have been organized informally to create a more relaxed and warm atmosphere.
- The Library
- The Library is finished in ebony, relieved with wood carvings with the high book-cases lining the walls. The Library reflects an interest in Japanese culture and design, particularly in the use of ebonized wood.
- The Maher Gallery
- The Gallery initially served as a space to display the family’s collection of paintings and an array of decorative arts. The room includes a stained-glass dome and the grand fireplace.
- The Ballroom
- The Ballroom served social events and was a space for entertainment and social gatherings.
- Fireplace sculptures
- Most rooms have elaborate Fireplace sculptures that are art pieces reflecting the 1880’s artistic tastes.
- Stained Glass
- Elaborate stained glass is breathtaking.
- Tiffany Glass & Decorations
- Highlights of the Tiffany objects on permanent display include a set of brightly colored iridescent stemware; large fire screen with iridescent chain mail tiles; unique centerpiece lamp with a base of eight large nautilus shells; and green blown-glass humidor.
- Name: Driehaus Museum
- City: Chicago
- Country: United States
- Established: 2003
- Type: Decorative Arts Museum
- Address: 40 East Erie Street, Chicago, Illinois, United States
Driehaus Museum – All you need to Know
- Hours: Tuesday – Sunday, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
- Advance ticket purchase for our guided tours is recommended but not required. Purchase tickets online or call 312-482-8933.
- The Museum is closed Mondays, the Fourth of July, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year’s Day. Check the Museum’s website for the latest information on closures and available exhibits.
- Location: 40 East Erie Street, Chicago, IL. The Driehaus Museum is located on the north-east corner of Wabash and Erie, just two blocks west of Michigan Avenue.
- Elevators service all three floors of the Driehaus Museum.
- Public Transit: The Red Line is the nearest El stop at Chicago Avenue. From Chicago Avenue, walk south to Erie Street. The State Street bus, number 36, or Michigan Avenue buses stopping at Erie Street are just a short walk to the Museum.
Driehaus Museum – Visitor Feedback Highlights
- Beautifully decorated with original wood paneling and wall coverings and carpet representative of the period.
- Furniture and artwork from American and European decorative arts of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
- Amazing Art Deco collection
- Gorgeous Tiffany Glass and Lamps
- The Guided tour is worth the additional Fee and good value
- Historically and architecturally significant Chicago landmark
- Decorative Art Sculptures
- Beautifully restored mansion from the 1880s
- A museum within a Museum Building
- A regular schedule of Temporary Exhibitions
A Tour of Chicago’s Museums
- Art Institute of Chicago
- Chicago History Museum
- Field Museum of Natural History
- Museum of Science and Industry
- Driehaus Museum
- Museums in Chicago
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- American Proverbs and Quotes
- The Driehaus Museum in Chicago is a celebration of the Gilded Age America.
“A market economy cannot thrive absent the well-being of average people, even in a gilded age.”
– Jaron Lanier
Photo Credit: By Alanscottwalker (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons