Saturday Hours

Photo courtesy of Richard Cahan

Photo courtesy of Richard Cahan

We're excited to have open office hours the next three Saturdays, from June 30th through July 14th. We'll be open from 10 AM to 4 PM for those interested in visiting our current exhibition, History Lessons: Everyday Objects From Chicago Public Housing. The exhibition closes on July 27th.

We hope to see you there!

Dr. Lisa Yun Lee Speaks at Chicago Community Conversation

Photo courtesy of Marc Monaghan

Photo courtesy of Marc Monaghan

NPHM Executive Director, Dr. Lisa Yun Lee, alongside our friends and allies, J. R. Flemming, Dolores Wilson, and Ben Austen, participated at the Chicago Community Conversation. The Conversation, hosted by the Obama Foundation and the University of Illinois-Chicago, featured workshops that focused on the power of young people, the importance of mentorship for urban communities, and the importance of solidarity in the face of historical trauma.

You can read more about her keynote speech, alongside those of bluesman Billy Branch and UIC physician Robert Winn here.


Langston Allston speaks with WGN

One of our current artists in residence, Langston Allston, recently spoke with The Cornerstore on WGN about his life growing up in Champaign, Illinois and how music and comics shaped his identity, gentrification in New Orleans and Chicago, his current series Radiant City, and his partnership with the Museum.

You can listen to his interview here.

One of Langston's pieces, Modern Kitchens, is currently on display as a part of our exhibition, History Lessons: Everyday Objects from Chicago Public Housing.

Langston Allston, photo courtesy of Max Weissman

Langston Allston, photo courtesy of Max Weissman

History Lessons Now Open!

National Public Housing Museum
History Lessons: Everyday Objects from Chicago Public Housing

The National Public Housing Museum is pleased to invite you to  History Lessons: Everyday Objects from Chicago Public Housing. The exhibit opens on May 30th and runs through July 27th.

History Lessons features an array of ordinary objects from public housing residents that help tell the extraordinary stories of their owners, including a championship boxing belt owned by Lee Roy “Solid Gold” Murphy, and the leather motorcycle jacket of legendary Cabrini-Green organizer, Marion Stamps. The exhibition will also feature a mural-sized newly commissioned painting by Milton Reed, an artist who transformed thousands of apartments in the Robert Taylor Homes into dreamy landscapes. 

Over twenty objects are accompanied by labels written by public housing residents, created during workshops with Audrey Petty, author of High Rise Stories, and award-winning Chicago poet Nate Marshall, as well as interview-based labels conducted by photo-historian Richard Cahan. “What we have found is evocative of what life was like in Chicago public housing,” says Cahan, who co-organized the exhibit with the Museum’s Executive Director Lisa Yun Lee.  “The shortest distance between two people is a story,” Lee says, “and these objects help to tell both the beautiful and troubled history of public housing in Chicago and the diverse experiences of those who survived and thrived in those communities.”

The exhibition also includes our new Animal Court Audio Story, a collection of oral history interviews recorded in the past year by the Museum’s Oral History Corps. The audio features public housing residents and their Near West Side neighbors, including Desiree Davidson, Dennis O’Neil, Ida Brantley, Blanche Winston, and Mary Baggett, as they reminisce about these enchanting animals.

You can listen to a story collage that spans decades of memories by calling (312) 348-7834.

The recordings included in the story were conducted by Shirley Alfaro, Shakira Johnson, and Francesco de Salvatore.  The audio stories were funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art.


The exhibition is reachable by public transit. Ample street-meter parking surrounding the office is available as well as a public parking lot at 520 North Kingsbury Street, which charges $12 per hour at the corner of Grand and Kingsbury. 

This event is wheelchair accessible. Individuals requiring sign-language interpreters, real-time captioners, or other accommodations should contact Mark Jaeschke at 773.245.1621 or at least one week in advance of the event.

Summer Fundraisers: Mary J. Blige and Earth Wind & Fire

The National Public Housing Museum is pleased to announce that we are bringing you two wonderful fundraising concert events this summer featuring performances from Mary J. Blige and Earth Wind & Fire at the Ravinia Festival.

These concerts are a unique opportunity for you to not only help contribute to the work at the Museum, but to also enjoy an evening of music created by former public housing residents. Blige, originally from the Schlobohm Projects in Yonkers and Earth Wind & Fire, which had founding members that grew up in the Henry Horner Homes, and now features David Porter and Maurice White of the Foote Homes Projects in Memphis, will be performing on July 20th and August 17th

Opening Reception for History Lessons: Everyday Objects from Chicago Public Housing


S A V E   T H E   D A T E


The National Public Housing Museum is pleased to announce the opening reception for our newest exhibition, History Lessons: Everyday Objects from Chicago Public Housing on May 30th.

The exhibition, which features ordinary objects from public housing residents that share with us amazing stories of personal endeavors, as well as commemorating those that were most important in shaping their lives. The objects are described by the residents themselves, giving visitors a first-hand account of how these items played a part in their lives. The labels were created during writing workshops with Audrey Petty and Nate Marshall or during interviews with Rich Cahan.

The opening will take place on May 30th at the NPHM offices, which are located at 625 N Kingsbury St, from 5:30-7:30 PM. Refreshments and drinks will be served.

This event is wheelchair accessible. Individuals requiring Sign-Language Interpreters, Real-time captioners, or other accommodations should contact Mark Jaeschke at (773) 245-1621 or at least one week in advance of the event.

Housing and Racism in the Age of Trump Roundtable Discussion



                   RSVP today!

                   RSVP today!

Join us at the NPHM offices on May 15, from 5:30 to 7:00 pm for a roundtable discussion on housing policy, race, and racism in the age of Trump. The discussion will feature Glyn Robbins, author of There’s No Place: The American Housing Crisis and What It Means for the UK, along with moderator Rob Chaskin, Professor & Deputy Dean for Strategic Initiatives, University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration, and panelists Ianna Kachoris Ori, the Director, Strategy, Research Initiatives and Philanthropic Partnerships at UChicago Office of Civic Engagement, Janet Smith, Professor of Urban Planning and Policy at UIC, and our Associate Director, Robert Smith III.

The event will bring together Chicago's housing, research, and activist communities for a conversation about housing as a human right, in an era of populism and disinvestment in public housing policy and infrastructure.  

Based on field-research in eight US cities, Dr. Robbins discusses how the battles of working class communities in the US to save their homes are mirrored by the UK experience. These issues assume greater resonance in the aftermath of the election of Donald Trump and the Grenfell Tower disaster. The panelists will look comparatively at the US and the UK, with particular attention to the public housing context in Chicago.

RSVP here!



History Lessons Writing Workshop

The NPHM hosted a label writing workshop on March 21st for residents that are loaning objects for our upcoming show, History Lessons: Everyday Objects from Chicago Public Housing. The exhibition features a wide variety of ordinary items that tell extraordinary stories of public housing and will feature labels that are written by those that are closest to them, the residents themselves, along with interviews conducted by Rich Cahan. 

The workshop itself, which was run by Audrey Petty, author of High Rise Stories was the first of two which led residents though how to write effective labels for their objects through historical and poetic lenses.

The second meeting was April 18th and was led by Nate Marshall at Annie Stubenfeld’s Legends classroom.

Shaq McDonald writing a label for a metal airplane given to him by his uncle.

Shaq McDonald writing a label for a metal airplane given to him by his uncle.

Oral History Corps Interview Representative Bobby Rush

Shakira Johnson, of the Museum's Oral History Corps, along with Executive Director Lisa Lee, visited Representative Bobby Rush in Washington D.C. to interview him for our on-going oral history project. 

Rush, who grew up in Chicago public housing, was a co-founder of the Illinois chapter of the Black Panthers and worked on creating non-violent, community-centric projects to help African Americans living in Chicago. We are excited to add Bobby Rush's invigorating stories to our archives for future study.


Kali Akuno Roundup

In conjunction with the University of Illinois-Chicago's Social Justice Initiative, the NPHM hosted economic activist Kali Akuno from Jackson, Mississippi to talk to residents and allies about cooperative businesses.

The focus of the talk was to begin our work for establishing an Entrepreneurship Hub, comprised of the Social Justice Business School, Office Hours, and the cooperatively run Museum store that will be run by residents. The conversation, co-hosted by Teresa Prim, centered around the history of Jackson's project and other cooperatives, as well as the power of solidarity economies that bolster horizontal power structures that enrich the lives of those involved. 

All ears on Kali Akuno as he discusses the cooperative business model to public housing residents and allies.

All ears on Kali Akuno as he discusses the cooperative business model to public housing residents and allies.

The Museum is currently planning our next steps for the Hub. We are hosting a lunch discussion on May 4th, from noon to 1:30 with public housing residents and allies to begin imagining how the co-op will best serve the community.

Kali Akuno Lunch Discussion on 4.10

WORKER COOPERATIVE – A business that is owned and controlled by the people who work in it

The National Public Housing Museum is beginning to the creation plans for a museum store that is owned and operated by public housing residents.

Join residents (and allies) at the National Public Housing Museum offices for a free lunch discussion with Kali Akuno on April 10th as we work with you to envision this cooperative business. We will be learning about worker co-ops, their role in advancing racial and economic justice — and how to build this business together from the ground up.

RSVP today at!

High-Risers Book Release Recap

We had such an amazing evening last night with Ben Austen, Audrey Petty, J.R. Flemming, and Dolores Wilson as we celebrated the release of Ben's new book, High-Risers: Cabrini Green and the Fate of American Public Housing. We are so grateful to all who were in attendance last night and we are happy to share a few highlights from the evening below!


REMINDER: High-Risers Book Release Party

Today's the day! Come visit us this evening at 625 N Kingsbury St for a conversation with High-Risers author, Ben Austen, along with Audrey Petty and Cabrini Green activists.

The even begins at 5 pm with a free dinner, and the discussion will start at 6. We are expecting a packed house, so come early, as seating will be limited. There will be extra room for people to listen and engage with the discussion as well.

We'll see you there!

NPHM Awarded NEA Grant

The NPHM is excited to receive an Art Works grant from the National Endowment for the Arts of $30,000.00 for the restoration and return of the enchanting New Deal animal sculptures by Edgar Miller to the Museum’s Courtyard at the historic Jane Addams Homes located at 1322 West Taylor Street. 

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“We have assembled a dream team that includes acclaimed landscape designer Ernie Wong from Site-Design and Andrzej Dajnowski from the Conservation of Sculpture and Object Studio to restore and install these sculptures” says Lisa Yun Lee, the Executive Director of the NPHM, “and we are thrilled that these works of art will once again create a vibrant public space in their original historic setting, exemplifying the core belief that art and design create livable communities.”

The seven-piece public sculpture Animal Court by Edgar Miller was central to the design of the Jane Addams Homes, one of Chiago's most ambitious public housing projects.  Miller's sculptures were commissioned by the Works Progress Administration (WPA) and, from 1938 to 2006, functioned as a gathering place in the courtyard of the housing project, where people crossed boundaries of race and class to build community.  As one of Chicago’s most innovative and multidisciplinary artists, Miller recognized public housing as a space for artistic experimentation and a platform for expressing democratic values—a place where an artist could realize the ideal of accessible art for all people.  

NPHM at NAHRO Conference, October 27-29th

NPHM is hosting a booth at NAHRO. 

The National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO) is a professional membership organization comprised of approximately 20,000 housing and community development agencies and officials throughout the United States who administer a variety of affordable housing and community development programs at the local level. NAHRO works to inspire and engage professionals in housing, community development, finance, government, and social services in collaboration with residents to create attainable and sustainable housing and communities for vulnerable families and individuals.

Partner with us!  Please visit or email to learn more.

Artist as Instigator: William Estrada

The National Public Housing Museum is collaborating with William Estrada-- a dynamic artist, educator, activist, and cultural worker for Artist as Instigator Residency.

Working collectively with artists, activists, and cultural workers, NPHM hopes to provide opportunities for artists and makers to incubate ideas and produce new work, while giving the Museum’s stakeholders opportunities to express their creative rights - expanding the notion of who is an artist and a maker.

William will work with Museum staff to create socially engaged projects and opportunities that help bridge the divide between the arts, culture, and innovative public policy around the Museum’s mission to preserve, promote, and propel housing as a human right. These projects will be integrated as part of exhibits, public programs, and/or events at the Museum or in surrounding communities. The residency is informed by the Museum’s resources and knowledge, oral history archive, staff, and public housing resident expertise, and community and advocacy networks.

William Estrada was born to immigrant parents and grew up assembling memories in California, Mexico, and Chicago. His teaching and art making practice focuses on engaging the complex experiences within marginalized communities and contested spaces. He documentsand analyzes public/private learning spaces to transform, question, and make connections to established and organic systems through discussion, creation, and promotion of counter narratives.

William's work is a discourse of existing images, text, and politics that appoints the audience to critically re-examine the meaning of their surroundings. As a teacher, artist, cultural worker,  and urban anthropologist he reports, records, reveals, and imparts experiences you find in academic books, school halls, teacher lounges, kitchen tables, barrios, college campuses, and in the conversations of close friends. 

William has presented in various panels regarding community programming, arts integration, and social justice curricula through the Illinois Art Education Association, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois Humanities Council, Smart Museum of Art, the National Guild of Schools in the Arts, National Art Education Association, Teachers for Social Justice San Francisco, Iowa University, and Grand View University.  In 2016 he was awarded the Teaching Artist Community Award from 3Arts Chicago.

His current research is focused on developing community based and culturally relevant programs that question power structures of race, economy, and cultural access.

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October 19th Opening Reception for Housing as a Human Right: Social Construction

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     This event is wheelchair accessible. Individuals requiring Sign-Language Interpreters, Real-time captioners, or other accommodations should contact Shirley Alfaro at (773) 245-1621 or at least one week in advance of the event.

This event is wheelchair accessible. Individuals requiring Sign-Language Interpreters, Real-time captioners, or other accommodations should contact Shirley Alfaro at (773) 245-1621 or at least one week in advance of the event.