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MAS Context donates Margaret McCurry’s oral history to The Art Institute of Chicago

September 5, 2023

In 2020, MAS Context started creating oral histories as part of its Dialogues series. That effort began with an in-depth interview with Chicago-based architect Margaret McCurry conducted by Iker Gil and Julie Michiels. We are pleased to announce that we have now donated Margaret McCurry’s oral history to the Chicago Architects Oral History Project at The Art Institute of Chicago.

Mas dialogues 2022 margaret mccurry office

Margaret McCurry in her office, Chicago. Courtesy of Margaret McCurry.

“The Chicago Architects Oral History Project has been an invaluable tool to gain a clearer picture of the architectural culture in the city over the last century. Since I moved to Chicago two decades ago, reading these oral histories conducted by Betty Blum has been an insightful and enjoyable way of knowing more about those who practiced in the city,” said Iker Gil, founder and editor in chief of MAS Context. “For that reason, it was important for us to contribute to this historic project and donate Margaret McCurry’s oral history. Julie and I are glad that Margaret’s remarkable life and career will be represented in this essential archive, along with many other architects who have left their mark on Chicago, including her father, architect Paul McCurry, and her husband, architect Stanley Tigerman.”

“Iker Gil, editor in chief of MAS Context, and Julie Michiels dedicated countless interview and editorial hours to creating my oral history. I am honored that they are now donating it to the Art Institute of Chicago where it will join the museum’s collection of Chicago architects’ oral histories,” said architect Margaret McCurry.

“The Art Institute of Chicago is thrilled to celebrate the donation of Margaret McCurry’s rich and informative interview to our Chicago Architects Oral History Project,” said Nathaniel Parks, Tigerman McCurry Director of The Art Institute of Chicago Archives. “This gift from MAS Context marks the first of many additional forthcoming donations by the nonprofit, and we look forward to this new chapter in our long and fruitful collaborative relationship.”

Of Margaret McCurry, Nathaniel Parks commented that “as partner in Tigerman McCurry since 1982 alongside her husband Stanley Tigerman, McCurry has been a force in Chicago architecture for decades. Combining the direct simplicity of Shaker craftsmanship with Miesian minimalism and a tendency toward hyper-abstraction, McCurry’s work combines a familiar architectural vocabulary with fresh syntax, appearing simultaneously contemporary and authentic. And like Tigerman, her unyielding concern for ethics and deep commitment to professional mentorship places McCurry in a unique class of architects. We are honored to help preserve the legacy of McCurry’s work through this gift and in the ongoing stewardship of the Tigerman McCurry Archive at The Art Institute of Chicago Archives.”

For more than twenty years, the Chicago Architects Oral History Project (CAOHP) documented the contributions of architects to Chicago during the twentieth century. The CAOHP was begun in 1983 under the auspices of the Art Institute’s Department of Architecture to record the life experiences of architects who shaped the physical environment in Chicago and surrounding communities. It was intended not only to fill an existing void in the literature but to go beyond the facts to explore motivations and influences, behind-the-scenes stories, and personal reflections. This collection of oral histories contains comprehensive life-review documents as well as shorter, focused interviews. These narratives explore the development of Chicago’s architecture and planning from the early 1900s to the present day. Included in the collection are Skidmore, Owings & Merrill partners and associates, students and colleagues of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, members of the Chicago Seven, principals of second- and third-generation architectural and engineering firms, and architects who defy classification.

In addition to conducting the interview, Iker Gil prepared a 166-page PDF transcription of the conversation, including related images, to match the design and format of previous oral histories included in the CAOHP. Funding to conduct Margaret McCurry’s oral history was provided by Iker Gil and Julie Michiels.

As Nathaniel mentioned in his remarks, we are excited that MAS Context and The Art Institute of Chicago have signed an agreement that allows for the donation of future interviews.