Donate to the National Public Housing Museum.

This is what public housing looks like. Its residents are resilient, creative, and courageous. 

  Milton Reed, “the Diego Rivera of the Projects” / Photo by Richard Cahan

Milton Reed, “the Diego Rivera of the Projects” / Photo by Richard Cahan

In 1961 Milton Reed moved into the Robert Taylor Homes, the twenty-eight public housing high-rise apartment buildings that stretched for miles along South State Street in Chicago. By the 1990s Reed was a household name in his community, known simply as “The Artist”. Over time he became known as an important image-maker and earned a modest living for his family by creating massive murals throughout the neighborhood. In his book Never A City So Real, Alex Kotlowitz gave Reed another moniker—“the Diego Rivera of the projects” after the great Mexican muralist. The photo above is of Reed with his painting of a black panther, one of his most enduring images and an iconic symbol of civil rights.

Once the towers came down from 1998 to 2007 and residents moved away, Reed was met with a wave of requests to paint murals in residents’ new homes that depicted the formidable skyline of the Robert Taylor. For the residents, these paintings were a way to honor the memory of their former community.

Reed, his patrons, and the National Public Housing Museum share a commitment to the power of the arts and culture to inspire individuals, sustain communities, and preserve the important history of public housing as path toward housing as a human right. Contribute to the National Public Housing Museum to help fulfill our mission to preserve, promote, and propel the right of all people to a place where they can live and prosper—a place to call home.

This year the Museum plans to expand our collection of public housing residents’ oral histories, organize small business owners and their communities for our Entrepreneurship Hub, present dynamic exhibitions, and host cultural and social justice events. The Museum is more than a powerful physical space: It is a wake-up call to build a more inclusive national conversation about what keeps us apart and the commonalities that bring us together.

We invite you to please support this essential work. If you have any questions or would prefer to donate over the phone, you can call us at 773.245.1621. Thank you for your generosity.