“The Ren cultivates an invaluably rich context by how it continues to push artists, challenge its audience, and give life to fresh ideas.”
— artist Kevin Beasley
The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago presents contemporary art exhibitions, events, and publications. “The Ren”—as we are known by many—is an independent, non-collecting museum driven by an uncompromising commitment to artists and their ideas. All exhibitions and events are free and open to the public.
We offer artists the time, space, resources, and freedom that are vital for ambitious experimentation and risk-taking. Our work with artists frequently results in newly commissioned art, and their presentations in our 3,000 sq ft gallery spur further scholarly and creative reflections in our publications and public programs.
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 are frequently accessed by art historians, students, and other institutions.
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.
Solveig Øvstebø joined the Renaissance Society as Executive Director and Chief Curator in 2013. She has since redoubled the institution’s commitment to the production of new works of art, commissioning projects by Mathias Poledna, Irena Haiduk, Peter Wächtler, and Jennifer Packer, among others. In 2020, Myriam Ben Salah was appointed the next Executive Director and Chief Curator.
For further information on the Renaissance Society’s institutional history, please see our three volumes.
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 Jessica Cochran
773 795 4043
For archives and research inquiries:
Please contact Karen Reimer,
Registrar/Director of Publications
Myriam Ben Salah
Executive Director and Chief Curator
Deputy Director 773 795 4043
773 834 3597
Manager of Media, Engagement, and Special Projects
773 795 2397
773 795 8524
Director of Publications
773 795 0906
773 795 0906
Raven Thomas Abdul-Aleem • Yto Barrada • Silvia Beltrametti • Heiji Choy Black • Vanessa Copans • Marilyn Fields • Martin Friedman • Laura Front • Glenn Holland • Jill Ingrassia-Zingales • Jennifer Keller • Randall Kroszner • Lina Lazaar • Nancy Lerner • Christine Meleo Bernstein • Valeria Napoleone • Canice Prendergast • Neil Ross • Glen Saltzberg • Margaret Stone • Anne Van Wart • David Williams • Richard Wright
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
The Renaissance Society would also like to thank the following for crucial General Operating support of its 2018-19 season:
The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts
MacArthur Fund for Arts and Culture at Prince
The Provost’s Discretionary Fund at the University of Chicago
Illinois Arts Council Agency
All Renaissance Society publications are made possible by the Mansueto Foundation Publications Program.