Columbian Museum of Chicago (Field Museum)

dward E. Ayer almost took “No” for an answer. If he had, there might not be a Field Museum of Natural History, and if there was a museum, it certainly wouldn’t have the same name. 

The idea for the museum began with a letter to the Chicago Tribune on May 31, 1890. It had only been three months since Congress selected Chicago to host the World’s Fair, and only a month since the Senate concurred with that choice. The Columbian Exposition would take place in less than three years, and while the city was madly preparing, Frederick Ward Putnam, the fair’s future curator of anthropology, suggested that it would be a good idea to collect the exhibits when it was over. As a Harvard professor of American Archaeology and Ethnology, he thought “such a collection would form a grand beginning for a permanent ethnological museum which would grow in importance and value as time goes on.” The Chicago Tribune called it an “interesting suggestion.”

Read more about this landmark in Living Landmarks of Chicago.

Completed: 1921
Architect: Graham, Anderson, Probst and White
Address: 1400 S. Lake Shore Dr.

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Sources for Columbian Museum of Chicago (Field Museum)

This is a selection of specific sources used to provide details while researching this landmark. Additional sources, including books and websites, can be found on the Resources page.

  • “Annual Report of the Director to the Board of Trustees.” Field Columbian Museum, Publication 6. Vol 1. No. 1, 1894 – 1895.
  • The Architectural Forum. New York [etc.]: Whitney Publications [etc.], Vol. XLII No. 2, Feb 1925.
  • Cornelius, Charles Over. “Henry Hering’s Sculpture for the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago.” Architectural Record, Vol XLIV No. V, Nov 1918.
  • Field Columbian Museum. An Historical And Descriptive Account of the Field Columbian Museum. Chicago: [The Museum], 1894.
  • Field Museum News, Vol. 1 No. 1 Jan 1930.
  • Lockwood, Frank C. (Frank Cummins), 1864-1948. The Life of Edward E. Ayer. Chicago: A.C. McClurg, 1929.
  • National Register of Historic Places Nomination Form.