The stained glass windows are housed in an 800-ft.-long series of galleries along the lower level terraces of Festival Hall. The Smith Museum of Stained Glass, opened in 2000, is the first museum in the United States dedicated solely to stained glass windows.
It showcases both secular and religious windows and is divided by artistic theme into four categories: Victorian, Prairie, Modern and Contemporary. All windows were designed by prominent local, national and European studios and most were originally installed in Chicago area residential, commercial and religious buildings.
Unique window into Chicago history!
The windows provide unique insight into Chicago’s cultural, ethnic and artistic history. The time period they represent, 1870 to the present, was an era of intense urban revision that featured the development, decline and revitalization of neighborhoods, the development of commercial and cultural institutions, the evolution of artistic styles and the response of various ethnic groups to these changes.
The religious windows reveal the national and ethnic styles of Chicago’s European immigrants, while the residential windows display the history of architecture and decorative art styles.
Artists from around the world at Navy Pier!
Well-known artists’ windows on display include Louis Comfort Tiffany and John LaFarge, as well as Chicago artists Ed Paschke and Roger Brown. The museum also presents unique contemporary pieces including stained glass portraits of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Michael Jordan and a window created from soda pop bottles.
The Richard H. Driehaus Gallery of Stained Glass is also featured within the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows. This extraordinary collection features 13 windows that highlight the work of Louis Comfort Tiffany and his workshop from 1890-1930.
Tiffany’s New York at Navy Pier?
All 13 windows come from Tiffany’s studio in New York City, and he specifically designed most of the stained glass. Tiffany first began experimenting with glass art in 1873. He opened the Tiffany Glass Company in 1885; it then became the Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company and later Tiffany Studios.
After designing hundreds of beautiful windows for churches, public buildings and homes of his wealthy clients, Tiffany became one of the most well-known glass designers in the United States, and his reputation for experimentation in stained glass techniques and originality in design is unsurpassed.
Admission and Operating Hours
Admission to the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows is free and the museum is open daily during Pier operating hours.
Current Hours of Operation:
Sundays through Thursdays 10 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m. – 10 p.m.