Hairy Who Image History

About Hyde Park Art Center

Hyde Park Art Center 

Since its inception in 1939, the Hyde Park Art Center has grown from a small collective of quirky artists to establishing a strong legacy of innovative development and emerging as a unique Chicago institution. The Art Center’s first executive director, noted painter Harold Hayden, established the tone when he declared: 

“Art should be found where people work and live.” 

As Chicago’s only visual arts organization dedicated to ensuring that Chicago is a place where artists can practice and flourish, the Art Center continues to sustain this foundational spirit.


1939 - The Fifth Ward Art Guild aka The Hyde Park Art Center is founded by artist volunteers

1940 - The Guild officially changes it name to the Hyde Park Art Center

1957 - "Knowing that the Art Center existed as part of the whole scene just contributed to the belief that the arts were a normal and fundamental part of life." - Bruce Thorn

1968 - The Art Center exhibits Non-Plussed Some ushering in a new wave of Chicago Imagists and builds a bridge for future Imagist creations

1969 - 30 by 30 by 30 is the Art Center's 30 year celebration show

1970 - "the most interesting Chicago art is most often seen at the HPAC" - Franz Schulze

1973 - More classes are added for youth and adults Monday through Friday 

1984 - The Art Center begins its first Outreach program eventually extending to parks, community centers, retirement homes and schools on the South and West Side

1994 - The Art Center celebrates it's 55th Anniversary 

1995 - Not Just Another Pretty Face becomes an Art Center tradition, matching artists with patrons, revealing commissioned work in a community setting 

1998 - Cited by the Clinton Administration as one of 16 nonprofit organizations that could be used as a model for working with vulnerable youth 

2006 - The Art Center moves in at 5020 S Cornell Ave, the first free-standing home the art Center has had in its history. 

2014 - The Art Center celebrates it's 75th Anniversary

2016 - Hyde Park Art Center is recognized with the MacArthur Creative and Effective Institutions Award

Learn more about the Art Center:

Chicago's Creative VisionsThe New York Times, 2008.

Creative visions, but for many millions less. The New York Times, 2008.

Chicago's Culture Coast. American Way, 2012.

Can Chicago become America's next great city for artists? Atlantic Cities, 2013.