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New outdoor event space headed to Washington Park’s DuSable Museum

The South Side cultural institution hopes the addition will boost its profile and bottom line

Rendering by Site Design Group

The DuSable Museum of African-American History announced the start of construction on a new outdoor event space. Overseen by Chicago-based Site Design Group, the project will convert an underused 15,000-square-foot parking lot into a landscaped plaza with new grass, flowers, fencing, and pavers. It is hoped the improvements will not only boost attendance, but also create a new revenue stream by hosting private events such as weddings and corporate functions.

The makeover will cost $582,440 with $500,000 coming from the city and $82,440 from the Chicago Park District. As part of the plan, the adjacent Roundhouse building—a 19th century structure designed by visionary architect Daniel H. Burnham—will have its basement stairs rebuilt. The old Roundhouse is slated to feature Palais de Tokyo’s off-site exhibition as part of Chicago’s EXPO art week this fall.

Located at 740 E. 56th Place, Washington Park’s DuSable Museum of African-American History has struggled financially in recent years but is attempting to turn things around with new leadership. The organization brought on new President and CEO Perri Irmer and recently saw local superstar Chance the Rapper join its board, reported Fran Spielman of the Chicago Sun-Times.

The South Side cultural institution’s new event space is expected to be ready in time for the second Chicago Architecture Biennial (CAB) in September. The DuSable Museum will serve as a neighborhood anchor location designed to expand the CAB’s reach beyond the downtown hub of the Chicago Cultural Center.

Other Chicago Architecture Biennial satellite sites include the Beverly Arts Center in Beverly, the DePaul Art Museum in Lincoln Park, the Hyde Park Art Center in Hyde Park, the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen, and the National Museum of Puerto Rican Arts and Culture in Humboldt Park.