The Renaissance Society is at its core a space of possibility. For artists, we offer an unfettered platform for bold experimentation. Our work with artists frequently results in newly commissioned art, and these presentations in our gallery at the University of Chicago spur further scholarly and creative reflections in our publications and public programs. For visitors, we offer intimate opportunities to engage deeply with art and artists who provide critical responses to our present moment. All exhibitions and events are free to attend.
Visitors to the Ren find a uniquely intimate platform for encountering artistic expressions that give form to, challenge, and complicate currents in contemporary thought. Events—including artist talks, lectures, screenings, concerts, readings, and more—offer further opportunities for discovery and discussion. We maintain robust archives, which can be accessed by all visitors, art historians, students, and other institutions by making an appointment.
The Renaissance Society was founded in 1915 by a group of University of Chicago faculty, and our name refers to their intention to create a space in which to foster engagement with new ideas in arts and culture.
In the early 20th century the Renaissance Society played a key role in bringing European and other avant-garde practices to Chicago through presentations of Henri Matisse, Alexander Calder, Fernand Léger, Mies Van Der Rohe, Käthe Kollwitz, and Joseph Cornell, among others.
Under the 40-year leadership of Susanne Ghez from 1973 to 2013, the Renaissance Society hosted the Chicago debuts of Bruce Nauman, Joseph Kosuth, and Jenny Holzer; and key solo exhibitions by Mike Kelley, Isa Genzken, Felix Gonzales-Torres, Kara Walker, Kerry James Marshall, Joan Jonas, and Danh Vō. From 2013 to 2020, the Ren redoubled its commitment to commissioning major projects by living artists, such as Mathias Poledna, Irena Haiduk, Peter Wächtler, and Jennifer Packer, among others, championed by former director Solveig Øvstebø.
Myriam Ben Salah, who was appointed the next Executive Director and Chief Curator in 2020, is leading multiple new commissions and debut exhibitions for a new generation of artists, expanding the Ren’s legacy of offering artists the time, space, resources, and freedom that are vital for ambitious experimentation and risk-taking.
The Renaissance Society is registered 501(c)(3). We are a member of Mod/Co, Common Field, and UChicago Arts, and we are an independent affiliate of the University of Chicago.
The Renaissance Society
at the University of Chicago
5811 South Ellis Avenue
Cobb Hall, 4th floor
Chicago, Illinois 60637
P +1 773 702 8670
F +1 773 702 9669
For press inquiries:
Please contact Margaret Crowley
773 795 4043
For archives and research inquiries:
Please contact Karen Reimer
Myriam Ben Salah
Executive Director and Chief Curator
773 795 4043
Director of Development
773 795 0642
773 834 3597
773 795 2397
773 795 8524
Director of Publications
773 795 0906
Visitor Services Coordinator
773 795 0906
Raven Thomas Abdul-Aleem
Heiji Choy Black
Christine Meleo Bernstein
Anne Van Wart
Major annual support for the Renaissance Society is provided by 247 and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts. Additional annual support is provided by The MacArthur Fund for Culture, Equity, and the Arts at Prince and The Provost’s Discretionary Fund at the University of Chicago. This program is partially supported by a grant from the Illinois Arts Council Agency.
All Renaissance Society publications are made possible by The Mansueto Foundation Publications Program.
The Study at University of Chicago is the Renaissance Society’s Exclusive Hotel Sponsor.
Lead support for the Renaissance Society’s Next Century Fund for the production of new work is generously provided by:
Edlis Neeson Foundation
Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation
Zell Family Foundation
Major support for the Renaissance Society’s Next Century Fund is provided by:
Jorge Cauz and Ugo Alfano Casati
Marilyn and Larry Fields
Conor O’Neil / Chauncey & Marion Deering McCormick Family Foundation
Neil Ross and Lynn Hauser
Richard Wright and Valerie Carberry