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Chicago’s DuSable Museum reveals new terrace, timeline for historic Roundhouse

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Big things are in store for the South Side museum

Site Design Group

Late last week, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel helped cut the ribbon on a new outdoor event space at the DuSable Museum of African-American History. Created by local architecture firm Site Design Group, the addition replaces an underused parking lot with new grass, flowers, fencing, and pavers. The $582,000 project is aimed at not only boosting attendance, but also creating a new revenue stream for the museum at 740 E. 56th Place through hosting private events such as weddings and corporate functions.

The grand opening of the landscaped event terrace was not the only notable announcement to recently come from the South Side cultural institution. DuSable president Perri Irmer also revealed a revamped approach and timeline to reopen the museum’s historic Roundhouse wing, reports DNAinfo.

Designed by visionary architect Daniel H. Burnham as horse stables, the 19th century limestone and timber structure was previously slated to receive a $35 million makeover into a “pristine,” white-walled gallery space. According to Irmer, the latest plan would see the central rotunda retain its historic character as an event and traveling exhibition venue.

In addition to costing considerably less, the museum’s revised plan would see the Roundhouse permanently reopen to the public before the nearby Obama Presidential Center is slated to open its doors in 2021. Irmer tells DNAinfo that DuSable will coordinate with the planned presidential library to ensure the exhibitions complement one another.

Expo Chicago

Chicagoans eager to the checkout DuSable’s historic Roundhouse, however, won’t have to wait the full three years. Starting September 12th, the space will host a temporary art exhibition in collaboration with Expo Chicago and the Chicago Architecture Biennial. Dubbed Singing Stones, the installation is curated by the Palais de Tokyo’s Katell Jaffrès and will feature eleven emerging artists from both France and Chicago.

As a neighborhood anchor location, the DuSable Museum of African-American History is also teaming up with the Chicago Architecture Biennial to showcase the photography of Lee Bey starting September 21st. Bey, an architecture photographer, critic, and South Side resident, was named DuSable’s first-ever vice president of planning, education, and museum experience in July. This year also saw local superstar Chance the Rapper join DuSable’s board.