Throughout the Elmhurst Art Museum’s 25th year anniversary effort to inspire its community, the museum will host a year-long celebration with a focus on the three major hallmarks of its mission: architecture (Spring), education (Summer), and art (Fall). Central to the Spring season is the new multimedia exhibition, Houses of Tomorrow: Solar Homes from Keck to Today. The exhibition is open February 5 through May 29, 2022 within the museum’s galleries, with an accompanying light-based installation by Chicago-based artist Jan Tichy within the museum’s historic McCormick House.
Houses of Tomorrow follows the evolution of Chicago architecture firm Keck & Keck – created by brothers George Fred Keck and William Keck – who designed modern, award-winning, affordable homes throughout the Midwest from 1935-1979. For Chicago’s Century of Progress World’s Fair in 1933, George Fred Keck designed the House of Tomorrow, the first glass house in America with groundbreaking domestic amenities. The “House of Tomorrow” showed millions of World’s Fair attendees a technology-driven vision of what domestic life could be in the future as it featured many new ideas from the first GE dishwasher to a personal airplane hangar. It was through this house that the Kecks found a new way to harness solar energy, leading them to make energy efficiency breakthroughs throughout their career.
After the creation of this home, the Keck architecture firm built mid-century homes that now stand as early precursors to today’s sustainable building practices. This exhibition explores how the Keck brothers became the first “solar architects” with historic photos, architectural artifacts, design diagrams, and a commissioned artist interpretation by Jan Tichy centered on glass and light.
The exhibition includes an introduction to the groundbreaking House of Tomorrow with 1933 World’s Fair materials, documentary photographs, a look at the modern amenities it offered, and blueprints of current restoration plans; A dedicated gallery illustrating Keck & Keck as the first “solar architects” with narratives, videos, and historic photos of their resulting solar adaptations and designs; and Images of a 2021 passive solar design architecture competition using today’s groundbreaking solar and energy-efficient building technologies, among other artifacts and ephemera.
Accompanying the main exhibition is Jan Tichy’s immersive installation, Reflectance, which will invite visitors into Mies van der Rohe’s historic 1952 McCormick House, located on Elmhurst Art Museum’s property, to explore its domestic space as an environment of movement, light, activity, and wonder. With an emphasis on solar explorations, Tichy’s work will respond to the house’s south facing windows and other architectural elements along with additions of various architectural fragments, found objects, mechanical and electronic components, and photographic materials. His site-specific installation will show the McCormick House as a living, breathing, and interactive architectural structure.
In addition, museum has also announced a wealth of exhibition-related programming including an artist talk led by Tichy, a panel exploring today’s sustainable practices, docent-led tours curated in celebration of the 70th anniversary of the Mies van der Rohe McCormick House, hands-on STEAM activities for children, and more. Tickets available at elmhurstartmuseum.org.
Registration is required for the museum’s exhibition-related winter and spring programming, which is free with museum admission unless otherwise noted online at the museum’s website.