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Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art



The Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art is the fine arts museum of Northwestern University and Chicago’s North Shore. It serves the academic and cultural needs of the University and community by providing thought-provoking exhibitions, a rich and diverse permanent collection, dynamic educational and cultural programs, and classic and contemporary film screenings at the Block Cinema.

This distinguished artistic and academic space was originally created in 1980 with donated funds from art collectors and benefactors, Mary and Leigh Block, as a gallery space to exhibit works of art. Over time, other Northwestern departments transferred artworks to the gallery, which became a permanent art collection, now comprised of over 5,000 pieces garnered from donations and purchases. In 1998 the gallery became the Mary and Leigh Block Museum of Art, and shortly thereafter the museum embarked on a major expansion project. The addition, which tripled the size of the original space, was designed by Dirk Lohan, a Chicago architect and grandson of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe. The new facility reopened in September of 2000.

Today the museum provides exhibition and educational spaces, as well as a study center where patrons can view objects from the collection by appointment. The 150-seat Pick-Laudati Auditorium accommodates film screenings, lectures, and classes.

Leigh Block (1905–87), an executive with the Chicago-based Inland Steel Company, had served as chairman of the board at the Art Institute of Chicago. His wife, Mary Lasker Block (1904–81), who had been a vice president at the Chicago advertising firm of Lord and Thomas, founded the Women’s Board at the Art Institute and had been a director at the Lyric Opera of Chicago.

Found in 1 Collection or Record:

Block Gallery and Museum Clippings Files

Identifier: 5/11

The Block Gallery and Museum Clippings Files consist of articles, press releases, advertisements, and event clippings from exhibitions and museum and cinema events between 1999 and 2013.

Dates: 1999-2013; Other: Date acquired: 06/08/2014