Richard Nickel archives donated to Art Institute (documented Adler & Sullivan’s buildings)

[Note Adler & Sullivan were the architects for the Schiller Opera House/Garrick Theatre and the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago.]

Chicago Tribune, Cityscapes Blog by Blair Kamin

Chicago Stock Exchange

The archive of the late architectural photographer Richard Nickel, who recorded the soaring creations of Chicago architects Dankmar Adler and Louis Sullivan as well as the wrenching destruction of their work, has been donated to the Art Institute of Chicago, the museum will announce Tuesday.

The donation to the museum’s Ryerson and Burnham Libraries comes from the Richard Nickel Committee, a Chicago non-profit dedicated to preserving and disseminating Nickel’s images. The archive consists of about 15,000 items, among them negatives, photographs and contact sheets.

Nickel died in a 1972 accident while documenting the demolition of Adler & Sullivan’s Chicago Stock Exchange Building (above).

“Once he wrote me a note—if he ever died, he wanted his negatives to go to the Art Institute,” Chicago architect John Vinci, the committee’s executive secretary, said Monday. He called the donation “a good fit” because of the intense interest in Nickel’s work in Chicago.

The archive includes images of buildings that Adler and Sullivan executed after their partnership, which lasted from 1880 to 1895 and produced such masterworks as the Auditorium Building, defining what became known as the Chicago School of Architecture.

Nickel’s photos also cover the work of other distinguished Chicago architects, such as Daniel Burnham, and those of the nature-inspired Prairie School movement.

The donation coincides with this fall’s publication of “The Complete Architecture of Adler & Sullivan,” a book started in the 1950s and completed by Vinci and Ward Miller, the committee’s executive director.

In a prepared statement, Jack Perry Brown, director of the Ryerson & Burnham Libraries, thanked the committee and said: “Scholars will now more than ever come to the Burnham Library of Architecture to take fresh inspiration from the rich resources available here.”


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