Elmhurst Art Museum is an organization dedicated to the development of rotating contemporary art exhibitions, the celebration and preservation of a rare single-family home designed by Mies van der Rohe, and ongoing educational programs that are available at no cost to interested groups, schools and individuals. It is also an essential community anchor. In combination the galleries, the Mies House, the Education Center, and the organization as a whole enrich thousands of lives annually by deepening knowledge of art, architecture and design, increasing understanding of the relevance of visual art in our times, and sparking the development of individual creativity through innovative programming.
In 1981 a forward-thinking group of teachers, artists and community organizers, established the Elmhurst Art Museum with the belief that people from all walks of life and professions can learn to see and to think differently through meaningful participation in the arts. Initially housed in a single room at the Eldridge School (which at that time was community center run by the Elmhurst Park District), the Museum has grown physically and programmatically in significant and responsible ways in the intervening years. While initially focused on exhibiting and collecting works of primarily local artists, this small organization soon grew to a two-room space at Wagner Community Center. Setting their sights on the construction of a new building, the Museum established the Elmhurst Fine Arts and Civic Center Foundation to secure the resources necessary for this future. In 1991, the Foundation had an amazing and enviable opportunity when it purchased the unique Mies van der Rohe-designed McCormick House (1952) from former Elmhurst Mayor Ray Fick, who resided with his family in the home for nearly 30 years. It was an ambitious and unprecedented undertaking. Two years later, the house was physically moved from its original location with the intention that it would become part of the new Elmhurst Art Museum. The Museum then commissioned the Chicago-based architectural firm DeStefano + Partners to design a new building that would incorporate this unique architectural component with substantial exhibition, education, public and administrative spaces. A new facility opened to the public in 1997 with 15,000+ square feet of exhibition and education space, and combined access to world-class exhibitions, the unique home by Mies van der Rohe, and an Education Center that serves the residents of Elmhurst and the surrounding communities.