Decorate the town

By Mike DeYoug

The NIU Art Museum has not had a home since 1998, but that is not stopping it from displaying its collection all around DeKalb.

The museum originated in the 1960s and has had several locations throughout the years, but made its first appearance in the auditorium of Altgeld Hall in 1991.

From then, the art museum resided in Altgeld Hall, but since December 1998, when it was closed for major renovations, it has been a “Museum Without Walls.”

The Museum Without Walls program is a way to keep presenting its collection of contemporary art throughout the DeKalb area. It works with local community groups, organizations, business groups and artists to explore ideas for locations of art exhibits.

The most recent project by the museum was the DeKalb Farmland Project, which examined the issues of food production, soil sustainability and housing developments.

“We worked with the NIU departments of geography and geology to hold the exhibit in the old Woolworth’s storefront [in downtown DeKalb],” said Jo Burke, assistant director of the NIU Art Museum.

The art museum also worked with the DeKalb Park District to renovate Huntley Park.

“The art museum provided most of the legwork for the Labyrinth [Garden] project; we only provided some of the resources and funds,” said Dave Emanuelson, executive director of the DeKalb Park District.

The NIU Art Museum also helped create the mural painted on the side of the building on the corner of First Street and Lincoln Highway.

The museum will be without a permanent home until Altgeld Hall reopens after its five-year renovation project in spring 2004.