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Records of the Block Gallery (Museum)

Identifier: 5/10

Scope and Contents

The records of Northwestern University’s Block Gallery (renamed Block Museum in 1998) date largely from the late 1970s through 1994, with a few earlier documents. The collection contains extensive documentation of exhibitions, and includes information on the Block's finances and public outreach.

Description of the Series, Boxes 1-53, 1932-1994

The records are divided into seven categories:  administrative and general correspondence files, donation and development records, events files, exhibitions files, Friends of Art, grants and arts organizations files, and personnel files.

The administrative and general correspondence files, which fill the first nine boxes of the series, relate largely to routine matters including publicity, public relations, tour groups, and receptions held at the Block.

Donation and development records relate largely to donations to the Block, both financial and material. The first three boxes in this category contain records of smaller monetary donations from individuals during the period 1979-1987. The remainder of the category contains files on larger financial donations, both by individuals and corporations, and donations of works of art.

The events files date between 1979 and 1989. These files principally contain information on tour groups visiting the Block Gallery.  Also found here is a small volume of records on conferences and receptions held at the Block.  These files, typically one folder per event, generally contain very basic information, commonly recording the number of visitors or noting the provision of any special accommodations.

The exhibitions files fill twenty-three boxes and contain information on both accepted and declined exhibitions.  The accepted exhibitions fill nearly eighteen boxes.  Typically, there are multiple files on a particular exhibition; these files are further arranged according to a rough chronology or by topical folder headings.  These files date from 1978 through 1987.  They contain administrative correspondence, reports and related documents pertaining to the exhibition, information on physical space requirements, pertinent budgetary records, and audience evaluations.  The files on declined exhibitions complete the category and fill five boxes.  These files date from 1974 through 1987.  Prominent among them is a large volume of material relating to a prospective exhibition on French genre painting.

The Friends of Art is a group of Block Gallery patrons heavily involved in fundraising and development efforts.  The Friends of Art files are arranged in five boxes, first into subcategories and within these alphabetically by folder title.  The subcategories are: general, donors, events, membership, and solicitations.  The files span the period 1972 through 1994.

Filling six boxes, Grants and arts organizations files span the period 1979 through 1990.  These files principally contain records of applications for exhibition funding made by the Block Gallery and Northwestern University to various granting agencies.  There is a small number of files present relating to the Block’s involvement with governmental cultural agencies, mainly the Evanston and Illinois Arts Councils.

A small volume of personnel files contain employment-related records on individuals who worked at the Block Gallery during the 1980s.  There are also a few files relating to 1982 and 1984 searches for curators as well as job descriptions.

Description of the Addition, Boxes 54-82, 1980-1997

The exhibitions files addition fills 29 boxes and covers exhibits from 1980-1997. These files are arranged chronologically by the dates the exhibits ran. There are typically multiple files for each show, but all the folders are labeled with the title of the exhibits. These files contain administrative correspondence, reports and related documents pertaining to the exhibition, condition reports, pertinent budgetary records, slides, transparencies, photographs, exhibit catalogues, docent educational materials, and related publications.


  • 1932-1997


Conditions Governing Access

Boxes 1-53 may only be used with the permission of the University Archivist.

Boxes 54-82 may be used only by Block Museum staff.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored at a remote campus location and requires 48 hours advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.


82.00 Boxes

Language of Materials



The records of Northwestern University’s Block Gallery (renamed Block Museum in 1998) document the its exhibitions, finances, and upublic outreach activities, chiefly from the late 1970s to 1997.


The records are divided into seven categories:  administrative and general correspondence files (arranged alphabetically by keyword of folder heading), donation and development records (smaller gives arranged chronologically; larger gifts arranged alphabetically), events files (arranged chronologically), exhibitions files (arranged chronologically), Friends of Art, grants and arts organizations files (arranged chronologically), and personnel files.

Source of Acquisition

Six accessions make up this series: 90-114, 90-182, 90-186, 91-32, 91-184, and 94-101.

Accruals and Additions

Additions:  Transferred to the Northwestern University Archives on February 10, 2009 by Kristina Bottomley as accession number 09-20.

Separated Materials

Twelve and one-half boxes of extraneous and duplicate material have been discarded.

Processing Information

Matthew Sudman, Robert Carlton and Kevin Leonard; August-November 2006.
Guide to the Records of the Block Gallery (Museum)
Matthew Sudman, Robert Carlton and Kevin Leonard; Additions: Jason Nargis, March 2009
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Repository Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US