Archive of historic architectural photos displayed on Chicago's largest screen

Image of the City

Archive of historic architectural photos displayed on Chicago's largest screen

The Chicago History Museum has opened up its extensive architectural photography archive for a new exhibition. Chicago 00: Spaces brings together thousands of images produced by Hedrich Blessing, the famed Chicago architectural photography firm, from 1929 through 1979.

Displayed on the 89 LED blades that make up the 150-foot-long and 22-foot-high display at the 150 Media Stream in the 150 North Riverside Plaza, the exhibit is part of the larger Chicago 00 initiative. Chicago 00 is a collaboration between the museum and filmmaker Geoffrey Alan Rhodes, with the intent “to create new media experiences with the Museum’s extensive archive of historical imagery.” The exhibit merges the thousands of images together into thematic groupings, morphing them into an ever-changing composition using algorithmic image processing.

Hedrich Blessing, a photography firm responsible for some of Modernism’s most iconic images, entrusted its first 50 years of negatives to the History Museum for safekeeping and to support the museum’s research goals. The works of Mies van der Rohe, Frank Lloyd Wright, and SOM are often remembered through the work of Hedrick Blessing, with images such as those of Falling Water and the Farnsworth house becoming iconic in their own right. Hedrich Blessing closed its doors earlier this year after nearly 90 years of continuous practice.

Chicago 00: Spaces will be open to the public through January 31, on Friday evenings from 6 to 8pm, and from 1 to 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays. Other portions of the Chicago 00 initiative include free virtual tours of the SS Eastland Disaster along the Chicago River, the St. Valentine’s Day massacre, and the 1933 Century of Progress World’s Fair.