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The President's Office

Whose portrait is hanging in the president's office?


Gary Johnson's OfficeThe President's office in the Chicago History Museum originally was built as a gallery. As we reopen our building to visitors, Trustee Fred Krehbiel, gave me a great idea: move portraits once hanging in our Portrait Gallery to a new space. What better place than the President's office? There is a beautiful space to hang portraits over the fireplace.

Every month, we will ask, "Whose portrait is hanging in Gary's office?" Every month, with the aid of Curator Peter Alter, we will choose a portrait and invite the family of either the artist or the subject. This is a great chance to digitize a series of portraits, display them, and make new friends and welcome back old ones.

July 2006


Olof Krans. This month we honor a Swedish-American painter, Olof Krans. Krans was a member of the Bishop Hill community in western Illinois. Members of that community, joined by representatives of Chicago's Swedish-American Museum, were here in the office to celebrate. The Chicago History Museum owns three paintings by this folk artist: the self-portrait that is in the president's office this month, as well as a landscape and a portrait of the artist's mother. Krans was born in Sweden in 1838, and immigrated to Illinois with his family when he was twelve. He served in the Union army during the Civil War. During the years before his death in 1916, Krans did a series of paintings that recorded life in Bishop Hill. This is the English translation of the welcome given by Gary Johson to his visitors to celebrate the month of Olof Krans:

Today is a day of many celebrations.

First and foremost, we honor the Swedish-American artist, Olof Krans. We are proud to have three paintings of this important artist in the collection of the Chicago History Museum. We honor the Bishop Hill community. We welcome their representatives who are here with us today and we celebrate the role that Bishop Hill has played in the history of Illinois. And we honor our sister museum, the Swedish-American Museum Center. We welcome their representatives who are here today. Kerstin Lane is one of my heroes in the museum community and one of my best friends. We celebrate her leadership of that museum as its first executive director. Karen Abercrombie also is here with us. She will take Kerstin’s place and we are delighted to welcome her here today, too.

I also have a personal reason for being so excited about today’s event. My own great-grandfather, who was born in Nössemark, Sweden, came to Chicago in 1887, and my family has lived here since that time. I am proud that my own family’s story is a small part of the story of the Swedish contribution to Chicago and to Illinois. And we also celebrate the contribution that new families of immigrants continue to make today in our city and in our state.

This month, this wonderful painting by Olof Krans – his self-portrait -- will be in the place of honor in the President’s Office of the Chicago History Museum. Every time I see it, I will remember all the many reasons why today is a wonderful celebration.

We especially thank the representatives from Bishop Hill for joining us today.

Original Address in Swedish

Idag är en dag då vi firar flera händelser.

Först och främst ärar vi den svenskamerikanske konstnären Olof Krans. Vi är stolta över att ha tre målningar av denne betydande konstnären i samlingarna på Chicago History Museum. Vi ärar samhället Bishop Hill. Vi välkomnar representanterna som är här med oss idag och vi firar den roll som Bishop Hill har spelat i Illinois. Vi ärar också vårt syster museum, Swedish American Museum. Vi välkomnar dess representanter som är här idag. Kerstin Lane som är en av mina hjältar i museevärlden och en av mina bästa vänner. Vi firar hennes ledarskap för det museet som den förste chefen. Karin Abercrombie är också här med oss. Hon tar över från Kerstins och vi är glada att välkomna henne här idag.

Jag har också en personlig anledning att vara upprymd över dagens händelser. Min egen farfarsfar som var född i Nössemark, Sverige, kom till Chicago 1887 och min familj har bott här sedan dess. Jag är stolt över att min egen familjs historia är en liten del av historien om svenskarnas bidrag till Chicago och till Illinois. Vi firar också de bidrag från nya immigrant familjer som fortsätter att tillägnas vår stad.

Denna månaden kommer den här underbara målningen av Olof Krans att inta hedersplatsen i presidentens kontor här på ChicagoHistory Museum. Varje gång jag ser det kommer jag ihåg de många skälen till att vi firar idag.

Vi tackar speciellt representanterna från Bishop Hill för att ni är med oss idag.
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