7 In Your Neighborhood: Art for free

April 28, 2012 9:02:08 PM PDT
We all love to get things for free. And topping the list of favorite freebies for many are the books, movies and music you can get from the public library. Well now one local institution is also allowing you to check out art -- for free.

In ABC7 In Your Neighborhood segment, we went to the near West Side where volunteers are ready to bring a little culture to your neighborhood at no charge.

An abstract print called "Light Pink" is from a Chicago artist whose work was recently exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art. Sam Sharpe thinks it fits well into his new Humboldt Park apartment. And fortunately for him, it was right in his price range: free.

"For every one piece a museum purchases, there are one or two pieces purchased by private people who have wonderful collections, but if you're not a friend of that person, that piece is lost to you," Sharpe said. "It's nice to be able to participate in that private aspect of art and what art always was for centuries in a way, without being a millionaire."

The print is just one in a 28-piece collection of photographs, sculptures and other artwork that comprises the new Jane Addams Hull House Museum's art lending library. All of the works are produced by local artists and are available for home use for three-month periods. Museum volunteers install and un-install the work.

"I think it's exciting to have a chance to go out in the community to get to know other people who are interested in art," said volunteer Nicole Sachs.

The project evokes the spirit of Jane Addams and her original mission. The activist and Nobel Prize winner co-founded the social settlement Hull House in the 1890s to provide services to immigrants and to promote peace. The house is now a museum on the University of Illinois Chicago campus. The museum's new project aims to help unite the community by making art both accessible and affordable to everyone.

"One of the first things they really did was they started this art gallery and as part of that gallery, they actually had an art lending library, too," said Heather Radke of the museum. "So they checked out art to neighbors in this community, sort of to encourage them to have culture in their homes. They thought that people should have access and more than that, they should have the ability to help create cultures."

If you're interested in checking out some art, you can go to the museum to make a selection or you can browse their complete catalog online.