The brainchild of a forward-thinking group of teachers, artists and community organizers, the Elmhurst Art Museum was founded with the belief that people from all walks of life and professions can learn how to see and to think differently through the study of art, architecture and design. The Museum has always placed education on equal footing with exhibitions. It values architecture/design as much as the fine arts. Its broad approach was first realized with the acquisition of the Mies van der Rohe McCormick House, the second of only three houses that he built in the United States.
The Museum’s Mies house represents the architect’s mature vision for a new technological age: a single space within a minimal "skin and bones" framework and a clear arrangement of architectural parts. It is an architecture expressive of his epoch. Mies said “Architecture is rooted with its simplest forms entirely in the useful, but it extends over all the degrees of value into the highest sphere of spiritual existence, into the sphere of the significant: the realm of pure art.”
Architecture at its best represents the offspring of art and science. Mies’s design is the perfect embodiment of that union. More than the rational use of industrial materials, it is a highly expressive architectural language for the 20th century.
The Elmhurst Art Museum is much more than a house. Today EAM provides robust school outreach, offering no-cost programs to the diverse populations of Chicago and the western suburbs, hand-on ‘making’ courses using both traditional and 21st century media. It mounts intellectually expansive exhibitions and public programs showcasing modern and contemporary art and design in all its forms.