University of Chicago Library

Guide to the 57th Street Art Fair Records 1964-2006

© 2008 University of Chicago Library


Preservation of this collection was supported with a generous gift from the University of Chicago Service League.

Descriptive Summary


57th Street Art Fair. Records




9 linear feet (6 boxes)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


This collection contains the planning and promotional materials for the 57th Street Art Fair, including meeting minutes, reports, posters, textiles, banners and buttons.

Information on Use


Open for research. No restrictions


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: 57th Street Art Fair. Records, [Box #, Folder #], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library

Historical Note

Chicago's 57th Street Art Fair continues its role as one of the country's largest not-for-profit art fairs dedicated to exhibiting original art by artists who sell their own work. The Art Fair originated in 1948 when Hyde Park gallery owner May Louise Womer saw a need for local artists to network with each other and to their public directly. Invitations for the outdoor event were sent to galleries, art schools, and artists throughout the city. Initially the fair was open to all artists, but as the response grew each year, there became a need to limit entrants. In 1963, the Art Fair Committee was organized. Composed of critics, collectors, curators and artists, the panel chose which artists would display their work in the fair. This screening process is still in effect today. Once an artist is accepted, their exhibit space is held for their return through subsequent fairs; around 500 aspiring exhibitors compete for the 40 to 50 spaces that are vacated each year. Recently, over 300 artists exhibited in the Fair. Every year since 1948 there has been a 57th Street Art Fair, usually held the first weekend in June.

Scope Note

This collection contains the planning and promotional materials for the 57th Street Art Fair. Boxes 1 and 2 include administrative records of the Fair Committee, including minutes, financial reports, budgets and by-laws. These boxes also contain newspaper clippings about the Art Fair, lists of award winners, and an assortment of promotional materials including programs, postcards and bookmarks. Boxes 3-6 contain oversized materials. Boxes 3, 4 and 5 hold banners and posters of varying sizes, while box 6 contains t-shirts and other textiles.

Related Resources

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Subject Headings


Box 1   Folder 1

Art Alfresco exhibit at the Museum of Science and Industry, 1977

Box 1   Folder 2

Artist's postcards and brochures, 1980-2001

Box 1   Folder 3

Award winners, 1998-2002

Box 1   Folder 4

By-laws, 1972-1976

Box 1   Folder 5

Fair committee information and roster, 1972-1973

Box 1   Folder 6

Fair information and reports, 1980-1981

Box 1   Folder 7

Forms not in use, n.d.

Box 1   Folder 8

Minutes, 1964-1981

Box 1   Folder 9

Planning material, 1969-2001

Box 1   Folder 10

Printing samples, 1978

Box 1   Folder 11-12

Promotional materials, programs, postcards and bookmarks, 1975-1998

Box 2   Folder 1-8

Promotional materials, programs, postcards and bookmarks, 1999- 2007

Box 2   Folder 9

Publicity, newspaper clippings, 1974-1998

Box 2   Folder 10

Treasurer's reports and budgets, 1971-1981

Box 3

Large banners, vinyl, 1998-1999

Box 4

Posters, 1991

Box 5

Posters and buttons, 1999-2007

Box 6

Textiles, 1995-2004