Oral History Corps Benefit Performance

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Please join the National Public Housing Museum on March 20th at 7:30 PM at the Court Theater for Ntozake Shange's cherished work for colored girls who have considered suicide / when the rainbow is enuf. Tickets to this event were graciously donated by the Court Theatre.

The Archive is a collection of diverse and compelling stories of people who lived in public housing spanning from the 1940’s to the current moment. The collection includes intimate narratives that bear witness to an American history that is both brilliantly ambitious and deeply troubled. The Archive documents the histories of those not typically included in the mainstream record, and inspires listeners to discover opportunities, where many others might see only poverty and despair.  

The Oral History Corps is made up of an extraordinarily diverse group of individuals that the National Public Housing Museum has trained in recording, ethics, and interviewing skills. The Corps includes members who lived in public housing, as well as those who are committed in their work and lives to public housing.

The Play:  A sisterhood of eight women tell their stories through dramatic prose poetry, music, and movement. Told in vivid language, their experiences resound with fearless beauty and unity, despite exposing the unending challenges and oppressions that women of color face every day.

Director Seret Scott (Native Son) returns to playwright Ntozake Shange’s work after performaning as a member of the original Broadway cast from 1976-1978. She will inspire new audiences with this series of stories that still resonate profoundly forty years later.

You can purchase your ticket here.

Court Theatre is located at 5535 S. Ellis Avenue on the University of Chicago's Hyde Park Campus. The theatre is across the street from the Gerald Ratner Athletic Center, just south of the parking garage. Please print copies of your ticket or present the receipt on your phone upon arrival to the theatre.

The #55 Garfield bus stops on 55th Street at S. Ellis Avenue. From the Loop, patrons can transfer from the Garfield Red Line train or the #6 Jackson Park Express. For more public transportation options, please visit TransitChicago.com.

Court Theatre offers free evening and weekend parking to its patrons in the garage at 55th Street and S. Ellis Avenue. Enter the garage from S. Ellis Avenue or S. Greenwood Avenue, and take a ticket from the machine upon entrance. For 30 minutes following the performance, the S. Ellis Avenue gate will automatically raise when your car approaches for a free and easy exit. It is not necessary to insert your ticket upon exisiting at the gate. If you stay for a post-show discussion, please as the House Manager for a validation ticket. There is accessible parking available in the garage.

Watts Up? Screening at NPHM

Join us on February 24 at 2 PM at the National Public Housing Museum offices for a viewing of the Watts Up?, a special 25-minute documentary produced at the Watts Arts Tower by community members from Imperial Courts, Jordan Downs and Nickerson Gardens in Los Angeles. The documentary focuses on the one year anniversary of the 1992 Watts Truce between the Crips and Bloods and the impacts it had on the community. The truce was declared in the days leading up to the the 1992 Los Angeles Riots and has been frequently been considered to be a major component of the decline of street violence in the city in the years and decades afterwards.

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In a video production class led by Nancy Buchanan and the late Michael Zinzun, Watts Arts Tower residents were taught how to shoot and edit video, and produced Watt’s Up that reviewed the impact of the gang truce after it had been in effect for one year, as well as looking at the systematic issues that allowed for the disenfranchisement of their communities.

History Lessons in Chicago Tribune's Best of 2018!


The NPHM was recognized by the Chicago Tribune’s Steve Johnson for having one of the top 10 exhibitions of 2018. History Lessons, which was on display this last summer, was ranked #6 of the year.

”Instead of showcasing rarefied objects in the standard museum fashion, this one put on display mundane things from public housing residents - a mason’s tools, a Pyrex dish, a garden hose - and told the deep human stories behind them”.

Read more here.

Holiday Hours


The Museum will be closed on December 24, 25, 26, and 31 and January 1. We will be open during our regular hours, 10 AM to 5 PM, in between the closures, December 27 and the 28. The Museum will re-open in 2019 on January 2.

We wish you and yours a safe and happy holiday season and look forward to sharing the new year with you.

The People's Forum on Public Housing and Housing Insecurity

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Instead of a traditional mayoral forum with candidates giving stump speeches about what they think we want to hear, the National Public Housing invites candidates, with Amara Eniya and Lori Lightfoot currently confirmed, to participate in an active listening session with real experts – the people. This includes people who are surviving in a time of housing insecurity, public housing residents who have been displaced by the Plan for Transformation, people living with disabilities and having a hard time finding accommodating Section 8 housing, activists working to include an amendment to ban discrimination against people with prison records, and advocates who are pushing to lift the ban on rent control. The NPHM believes in the power of these people and strongly advocates for a space where transparent discussion is possible.

Join us at National Public Housing Museum offices for intimate conversation circles where attendees will be able to speak directly to each other and leading mayoral candidates to share their stories and solutions.

The event is co-sponsored by Chicago Housing Authority’s Central Advisory Committee. Light snacks will be provided.

Space is limited and RSVP is necessary: https://bit.ly/2PBMhgy

Jordan Peele to remake "Candyman"


Jordan Peele, acclaimed writer and director of Get Out is producing a "spiritual sequel" to 1992's Candyman that will be directed by Nia DiCosta. The original was set in Cabrini-Green, the housing complex located on the Near North Side of Chicago, and centered on an urban legend, a killer who entered apartments through his victims’ medicine cabinets.

Peele's sequel will take place in the now gentrified neighborhood where Cabrini once stood.

The medicine cabinet pictured below was salvaged from the Jane Addams Homes and is a part of the NPHM commitment to tell all the stories of public housing. So while the cabinet addresses the neglect and abandonment public housing complexes faced from lack of funding, gangs, and inefficient policing methods, there is more to the story. The Jane Addams Homes, like many other housing complexes, initiated innovative public health programs like on-site infant care and well-baby clinics, midwives to provide prenatal care, and wellness checks for the elderly and the most vulnerable residents.

Visit us today and see one of the medicine cabinets that is part of our current exhibition at 625 North Kingsbury Street.

S.H.A.R.P. Photo Exhibition

Annie R. Smith-Stubenfield use her first camera, a 126 film Instamatic, to document her life in and around the Ida B. Wells Homes. She now is a member of the NPHM board and leads the NPHM sponsored Senior Housing Alumni Resident Photographers (S.H.A.R.P.), a class that teaches seniors about camera operation, composition, and darkroom techniques.

The course culminated at the Oakwood Community Center, 3825 S Vincennes Ave, on Saturday November 3 at 1 PM with a free photography exhibit. The photos in the exhibition were curated by the Museum's Associate Director, Robert Smith.

You can view some of the photos below, the full exhibition is available for viewing on our Facebook page.

Top row, left to right: Clouds at Dusk by Dolly Dockery, A Slice of Pie with Ice Cream by Deborah K. Smith, Reflection on Glass by Deborah K. Smith, Guess What I Am by Eugene Clark.

Bottom row, left to right: An Intense Conversation by Eugene Clark, Motion by Jacqueline Greer, Candy Sell by Robert Scott, Three Wise Children by Deborah K. Smith

Decolonizing the Museum: Roundtable Discussion at Imagining America

On October 20, Museum staff, Dr. Lisa Lee and Mark Jaeschke were joined by activist and journalist, Jamie Kalven and former Chicago Housing Authority Tenant Patrol head, Crystal Palmer to share the Museum's plans for a cultural workforce program that abolishes forms of surveillance and expands the roles of public housing residents in key staff positions in education and visitor services.

The workforce program, which was inspired by the CHA’s Tenant Patrol, looks to reimagine what the traditional security positions in museums across the country look like. The Tenant Patrol emphasized the importance of the public housing community and taking care of its own, as well as personal growth for those who participated in the program. One of the Patrol’s tasks was to complete a “walk-down,” which would include doing maintenance runs of the buildings, checking in on the elderly during times of extreme heat and cold, and reporting crime during the early years of the program.

In the Museum setting, we imagine the workforce as a multifaceted approach that will allow public housing residents to continue the legacy of the Patrol. The Museum’s program will include the “walk-down,” which will attend to the Museum’s basic needs, but also will include work in guest services and as docents and educators.

Click below to scroll through photos from the talk.

Raise a Fist, Take a Knee

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October 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of John Carlos' Black Power salute at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics. Carlos, a former resident of the Harlem River Homes, alongside his teammate Tommie Smith's action brought to the foreground America's deep rooted racism to an international audience. 

This Saturday, October 20, John Carlos will speak at the Parkway Ballroom to discuss his decision to use his platform to fight against racism, as well as the aftermath of his action. A copy of "The John Carlos Story: The Sports Moment that Changed the World" is included with your ticket purchase.

You can purchase your ticket for this informative discussion here.

Imagining America 2018 Gathering

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On October 20 at 10:30 AM, join Jamie Kalven, investigative journalist and longtime public housing activist, Crystal Palmer, former head of the Chicago Housing Authority Tenant Patrol, and NPHM staff Lisa Lee and Mark Jaeschke to learn about how we are creating a more equitable workforce in the Museum, informed and inspired by the history of the CHA's Tenant Patrol, a citizen’s initiative that served as an example of social innovation and community empowerment. 

This event is part of the Imagining America GatheringTransformative Imaginations: Decarceration and Liberatory Futures. Conference requires registration.

"The Area" Screening and Storytelling Session at Gene Siskel Film Center

We're extremely proud to share with everyone David Schalliol's new film, The Area during its Chicago premier at the Gene Siskel Film Center of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago this Sunday, September 16, at 5 PM! After the viewing, the Museum's Oral History Corps will facilitate a storytelling session addressing disenfranchisement and gentrification with attendees.

The Area shares a dramatic story of community and displacement that occurred over a five year period in Chicago's Southside, told through the eyes of lifelong activist, Deborah Payne. The film focuses on Norfolk Southern Railway's transformation of 85 acres of houses, once home to over 400 families, into a desolate prairie landscape in the name of supposed economic revitalization.

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For all public housing residents that are interested in attending, please e-mail us at info@nphm.org for complimentary tickets!

NPHM Awarded IMLS Community Catalyst Grant


National Public Housing Museum Awarded IMLS Grant for Entrepreneurship Hub

The National Public Housing Museum is one of twelve awardees of FY2018 Community Catalyst Grant

Chicago, Illinois. Today, the Institute of Museum & Library Services (IMLS) announced that the National Public Housing Museum has been awarded the Community Catalyst Grant for $147,083, with funds to support the Museum’s Entrepreneurship Hub. The highly competitive grant received forty-nine applications this year, and the Museum is one of twelve institutions that will be awarded funding for this grant period. The Museum’s community partners for the Hub include University of Illinois-Chicago’s Social Justice Initiative, the Chicago Housing Authority’s Central Advisory Council, Civic Projects, Archeworks, and many public housing residents.

The project is inspired by the resilience of Chicago’s public housing residents who have worked in informal economies as artists, hair stylists, food purveyors, fashion designers, and social entrepreneurs. The Entrepreneurship Hub focuses on Chicago’s homegrown talent and invests in the innovative potential of public housing residents by providing support, resources, and collective imagining as they move their businesses from the kitchen table to the storefront and beyond.

“With the support of the IMLS grant, we are investing in Chicago’s greatest resource–the creativity and resilience of its people, and demonstrating the power of serving community needs in collaboration with those most impacted,” says Robert Smith III, the Museum’s Associate Director who is leading the efforts to create the Hub.

The Museum’s Hub is made up of four parts including:

  • The Social Justice Business School, a curriculum of classes on economic development economic democracy, cooperative enterprise, small business ecosystems, racialization of space, and neighborhood change.

  • Open Hours, a drop-in and pro-bono business services for public housing residents provided by Chicago designers, architects, and small business owners,

  • A Museum Store, as a groundbreaking public housing resident-owned cooperative business

  • A Storytelling space, featuring workshops that empower residents to share their own stories about entrepreneurship as well as train residents to become oral historians themselves.

“We are excited to play a role in the design and build-out of the Entrepreneurship Hub as the Museum moves closer to completion,” says Monica Chadha of Civic Projects. “The Hub will provide incubation and growth for entrepreneurs and its pairing with the Museum co-op shop creates an ecosystem for businesses to distribute products directly to consumers. The project is a vital component of the Museum’s mission and supports new and innovative approaches to business growth.”

The Community Catalyst Grant supports the work of museums and libraries that push the boundaries of collaboration and innovation within their communities. Through invested partnerships with museums, libraries, and the community developments they serve and interact with, IMLS hopes to create frameworks, tools, and resources that help to strengthen organizational capacity to bring about community change and bolster resilience.

“Social justice activists often know what we are against but this highlights one example of what we are for,” say Barbara Ramsey of UIC’s Social Justice Initiative. “ It offers a chance to experiment with an alternative economic model based on the common good, rather than individual greed.”  The Hub is one of the central components of the Museum and will serve as an innovative creative placemaking initiative that seeks to invest in the existing assets of Chicago’s public housing communities to help generate ongoing civic dialogue, transform public perceptions about public housing, and stimulate equitable economic development.

The Museum uses its cultural capital as well as its existing relationship with Chicago Housing Authority to nurture and grow the social and economic capital of low and very low-income people by providing gathering space to share knowledge, giving opportunities to build business skills through workshops, and offering creative, cultural, design, and architectural services to public housing residents in a dedicated effort to help realize their fresh, dynamic ideas. “  By constructing a space for one of the city’s most marginalized groups of people, the Museum’s Hub is one of the most progressive incubators we’ve seen,” says Willie Lewis of the Central Advisory Committee.“ Between the different teaching opportunities that will be paired alongside the Museum Shop, the Hub innovatively allows for financial opportunity and economic mobility for the residents that will be involved with the project.” The Hub is, as one resident put it,“ a hand up, not a handout.” Rather than individualism or self-reliance, the Entrepreneurship Hub at the NPHM emphasizes community, interdependence, and the common good in order to advance sustainability and strengthen the city’s economic, social, and cultural fabric.

About National Public Housing Museum
The National Public Housing Museum preserves, promotes, and propels housing as a human right, and the right of all Americans to a place where they can live and prosper–a place to call home. Led by the indefatigable Commissioner Deverra Beverly, a founding board member of our institution, public housing residents mobilized and organized in 2010 to save one building in the Jane Addams Homes located in the Near West Side on Taylor Street from demolition in order to create NPHM. Residents insisted on a museum that would preserve and tell their stories, particularly after a devastating period of urban renewal that dramatically erased many of their homes from the urban landscape. In 2018, the Museum was deeded the building by the Department of Housing and Urban Development and negotiated a 99-year lease for $1 with the Chicago Housing Authority. When the Museum opens in their permanent space in 2019, it will include the Entrepreneurship Hub, education and storytelling spaces, historic public art sculptures (Animal Court by Edgar Miller), and several apartments recreated and restored with material culture and artifacts based on oral histories gathered by the Museum over the past decade. Current exhibits and public programming are held at the Museum’s offices at 625 North Kingsbury.  To learn more, visit www.nphm.org and follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

About IMLS
The Institute of Museum and Library Services is the primary source of federal support for the nation's approximately 120,000 libraries and 35,000 museums and related organizations. The agency’s mission is to inspire libraries and museums to advance innovation, lifelong learning, and cultural and civic engagement. Its grant making, policy development, and research help libraries and museums deliver valuable services that make it possible for communities and individuals to thrive. To learn more, visit www.imls.gov and follow us on Facebook and Twitter.


Contact:         Mark Jaeschke

Earth, Wind & Fire Recap

We had such a wonderful evening at our Earth, Wind & Fire Summer Concert Fundraiser! Many thanks to our board, friends, and supporters of the Museum for helping us raise money for our Oral History Corps project and future exhibitions. We hope everyone's concert experience was as memorable as ours, the soundtrack to the night could not have been more energetic and uplifting!

Pictured above (left to right, click on the images to scroll): 1) Board Member and granddaughter of Robert Taylor, Gail Dugas, celebrating Ann Ruzicka's birthday 2) Reverend Marshall Hatch with NPHM Executive Director, Lisa Yun Lee, and Alderman Jason Ervin 3) Board Member Crystal Palmer with Senator Mattie Hunter and Lisa Yun Lee 4) NPHM Board Members celebrating a successful fundraiser.

A special thanks to our wonderful sponsors, Applegate + Thorne-Thomsen, P.C., Brinshore Development, LLC, East Lake Management Group, Habitat Company, Holsten Real Estate Development Corp., Landon Bone Baker Architects, Linn-Mathes Inc, Amy Reichert Architecture & Design, Site Design Group, LTD, Woodlawn Community Development.

NPHM Oral History Corps Interview Kim Foxx

Colette Payne of the Museum’s Oral History Corps recently interviewed Kim Foxx, Cook County’s State’s Attorney. Foxx grew up in Cabrini-Green and was raised by her mother, Gennell Wilson, who encouraged her to study hard in school. 

While she was on the campaign trail, she stated that "We need someone who has a vision to do something different," in reference to her lived experience in Cabrini-Green. Her historic victory as the first African American woman to lead the State’s Attorney’s Office resonants during a time that demands for more transparency and equity from our criminal justice system.

Thanks to Colette for your work!

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