Vivian Maier in Color at Chicago History Museum

Just across the street from Latin at the Chicago History Museum is the “Vivian Maier: In Color” exhibit. It features 65 of Vivian Maier’s most well-known color images from her time working as a nanny from the 1950s to the 1970s on Chicago’s North Shore.

Until after she died 12 years ago, Vivian’s work—hundreds of prints, 100,000 negatives, and around 1,000 rolls of film—went virtually unknown. An assortment of her images were finally discovered after a collector purchased the contents of her storage unit, unveiling the true talent of the mystery woman.

Despite her knack for photography, she never revealed her work to anyone, and instead, anonymously captured photographs of ordinary moments: a toddler slouched against a ferry ledge, a mother and child staring profoundly at a painting in the Art Institute of Chicago, and various self-portraits of her cloudy shadow contrasted against lush grass or gritty concrete.

Maier’s work reflects the social and political changes in history—specifically a time when many suburbanites were living what some might consider the “American Dream.” What’s more, the “behind the scenes” perspective that she gives viewers enhances how this message is framed in her artwork.

Though her pieces encapture ordinary moments, they are anything but plain. In this exhibit, her photographs are usually glazed with a foggy film, almost creating a sense of nostalgia. Then, pops of color bring the pristine moments to life.

“Vivian Maier: In Color” will be open until January 3, 2023. Give it a visit and prepare to be entirely immersed into picture-perfect Chicago moments.