Motley at the Cultural Center


From 1897 to 1991, Chicago’s Center Public Library was located on Michigan Avenue in a building designed by A.H. Coolidge, associate of the firm Shepley, Rutan & Coolidge (a precursor of Shepley Bulfinch, which is renovating Princeton’s Firestone Library). Today, the building is the Chicago Cultural Center, housing a variety of organizations, performances, and exhibitions.

“The center of this building, now known as Preston Bradley Hall, contains a dome and hanging lamps designed by Tiffany Glass and Decorating Company of New York. The Washington Street entrance, grand staircase and dome area contain inscriptions of 16th century printers’ marks, authors’ names and quotations that praise learning and literature in mosaics of colored stone, mother of pearl and favrile glass.”


The Center’s current exhibition, Archibald Motley: Jazz Age Modernist, celebrates the life and work of Archibald J. Motley, Jr. (1891-1981), a major contributor to the Harlem Renaissance. A Chicago native, Motley spent time in Paris and the show also highlights Jazz Age Paris of the 1920s. The exhibition originated at the Nasser Museum of Art at Duke University, where several videos were created to help interpret Motley’s career:


culture7Archibald Motley: jazz age modernist, edited by Richard J. Powell (Durham: Nasher Museum of Art, [2014]). Marquand Library (SA) ND237.M8183 A4 2014