Haunted House, Artists Responding to Site

Exhibition organized for the International Museum of Surgical Science, on view there from March 20, 2016 – July 31, 2016, featuring work by Ramsey Alderson, Lindsey french (sic), Stevie Hanley, Willy SmartRyan M Pfeiffer + Rebecca Walz, and Valentina Zamfirescu.

header image: photograph of Eleanor Robinson Countiss (c.1910), photographer unknown. 


about the exhibition:
1524 N. Lake Shore Drive has been the home of the International Museum of Surgical Science since the early 1950s; though in the decades prior, this stately limestone mansion on the shores of Lake Michigan was the private residence of Chicago socialite Eleanor Robinson Countiss Whiting and her small family. In the early 1900s, Eleanor commissioned the celebrated Chicago architect Howard Van Doren Shaw to produce for her a near-replica of la Petit Trianon, the palatial playhouse of Marie Antoinette on the grounds of Versailles. Eleanor’s father JK Robinson – an executive of the Diamond Match Company – put up the funds for 1524 as a gift to Eleanor on the occasion of her first marriage. The mansion opened onto an unspoiled lakefront in the Spring of 1917, and was supervised by its singular matron until her death in the early morning of March 20, 1931. The age and stature of 1524 have long drawn speculation that the house is haunted; though, the real ghosts of 1524 are in its details – the ornamental moulding, window seats, oriental rugs, or fragments of fossils in the lush limestone floors – each eccentric traces of the house’s early inhabitants. This exhibition paired rarely exhibited artifacts and ephemera from the history of the Museum’s architecturally significant and historically landmarked property with work by contemporary artists who engage the building as site, as well as its varied architectural and historical details.