Stained Glass at Navy Pier – Chicago, Illinois - Atlas Obscura
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Chicago, Illinois

Stained Glass at Navy Pier

A display of magnificent stained glass windows is the first exhibit of its kind. 

The very first American exhibit dedicated solely to stained glass opened on Navy Pier in 2000.

Named in honor of prominent Chicago collectors E.B. and Maureen Smith, the first museum housed more than 150 pieces throughout four galleries devoted to Victorian, Prairie, Modern and Contemporary stained glass. Nearly all of these stained glass works were collected from Chicago-area buildings.  It contained a variety of themed items, both secular and not, illuminated mostly with artificial light, highlighting the colors and intricate details of each piece.

Rather than placing the museum in a lofty part of town, the stained glass was exhibited on Navy Pier, a popular tourist site. Admission was free, and patrons encouraged get closer to the works and even bring food into the galleries. 

The Smith Museum closed in 2014 but people can still see stained glass at Navy Pier. The museum was replaced by the Richard H. Driehaus Gallery of Stained Glass Windows.  It is primarily focused on displaying works by Louis Comfort Tiffany of the secular variety, and some from associated businesses between 1890-1930, collected by the Chicago businessman. 

Know Before You Go

The Smith Museum is no longer open, but the adjacent Richard H Driehaus Gallery is still open on the lower level terraces of Festival Hall near Entrance 2, 600 East Grand Avenue, on Chicago’s Navy Pier. Current hours of operation are Sundays through Thursdays 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Admission to the gallery is free.

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