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History

history

The Northern Illinois University Art Museum originated in the NIU School of Art during the 1960s as an exhibition center curated by the faculty. In 1970 Gallery 200 was established as a permanent exhibition space within the newly constructed art building. In 1979 the Art Gallery moved to larger quarters in Swen Parson Hall and began to acquire a permanent collection. In 1990 the Swen Parson Art Gallery became a separate academic unit within the College of Visual and Performing Arts (CVPA) and its name was changed from "gallery" to "museum" to reflect its growing permanent collection. In 1991 the NIU Art Museum moved into the 5000 square-foot former auditorium in historic Altgeld Hall. This space was closed in December 1998 as Altgeld Hall was prepared to undergo a major renovation project. The Art Museum reopened in 2004 in the remodeled Altgeld Galleries.

During the renovation, the NIU Art Museum offices moved to a temporary site off campus where the Museum staff oversaw its Museum without Walls program. While its main gallery was closed, the Art Museum collaborated with artists and local community ‘Partners in Art’ in the development, design and production of contemporary art installations, events and projects at various locations within the greater DeKalb area.

The NIU Chicago Gallery was founded in 1984 as an outreach unit located in Chicago’s River North gallery district. In this space, the Museum presented contemporary conceptual and installation art as well as the work of NIU faculty and students. In June 2006, facing tightening state funds, the Museum and University administration closed the NIU Chicago Gallery and reallocated resources supporting that space to the College.

The Jack Olson Memorial Gallery (formerly Gallery 200) generally shows two professional art exhibitions per year and six student group art exhibitions. The Gallery was renamed in 1996 to honor art professor and past gallery director Charles “Jack” Olson who taught at NIU from 1969 until 1994. The Olson Gallery was administered by NIU Art Museum staff from 1995 - 2004. Now, the Olson Gallery is run exclusively by the School of Art at NIU.

Timeline

Year Event

2017

Museum prepares a five-year Institutional Plan for the period of 2018-2023

2016

University-wide Program Prioritization process commends the Art Museum’s outreach and partnering

2015

Museum files its second Program Review for the Illinois Board of Higher Education covering 5-7 years

2012

Calendar restructuring of Museum exhibits and programs from four to three units with extended run periods

2010

First Get-on-the-Bus Overnight Excursion

2009

Museum begins participating in the Illinois Cultural Data Project filing its financial and program data with records starting from 2007

2008

Museum begins regularly showing the Museum Studies ART 656 Exhibitions and Interpretation class capstone project

2007

Museum files its first Program Review for the Illinois Board of Higher Education covering 7-10 years

2006

Chicago Gallery closes; partial rental funds redistributed to the CVPA; Interpretive Plan for Museum Hallcase Gallery is developed

2004

Altgeld Hall reopens; Museum moves into new multi-room gallery space on the west end of the first floor; National Heritage Preservation Collections Assessment Program (CAP) review of the museum’s collections and building space

1998

Altgeld Hall closes for renovation in January; Museum begins its Museum without Walls public arts program phase

1995

Friends of the NIU Art Museum annual giving program started

1993

Full time Preparator position added

1991

 NIU Art Museum moves into the second floor Auditorium of Altgeld Hall

1990

Swen Parson Gallery name changed to NIU Art Museum to reflect its growing collection

1984

NIU Chicago Gallery opens in the River North Gallery District

1979

The Art Gallery moves to larger space in Swen Parson Hall in the area that is now the Law Library

1970s

Gallery 200 is established as a permanent exhibition area within the newly constructed art building

1960s 

The Art Museum originated in the School of Art (then within the Stevens Building) as an exhibition center curated by the faculty

    

Gallery Hours

Free and open to the public
Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday: 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Thursday: Noon-7 p.m.
Sunday Noon-4 p.m.
By appointment for group tours.

Closed during the summer, between exhibitions and during university holidays.

Location

The NIU Art Museum is located on the first floor, west end of Altgeld Hall, on the corner of College Avenue and Castle Drive on the main campus of Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL.

Campus map