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Lake Point towerOne of the Nation's Largest Collections

From skyscrapers to bungalows, the Chicago History Museum has one of the nation's largest collections of architectural working drawings, as well as manuscript materials, photographs, architectural models, and building fragments.

Architectural Drawings

The Museum's architectural drawings date from the 1870s to the present. Major collections include Holabird & Root and John Lloyd Wright. The majority of drawings are working drawings on drafting linen or tracing paper, but the collection also contains design sketches and rendered presentation drawings.

Manuscript Materials

In addition to architectural drawings, the Museum also collects the business papers of architectural, engineering, and real estate development firms. Artifacts include job files, correspondence, ledgers, field notes, and more.

Models and Building Fragments

Approximately fifty architectural models are also in our collection. Some are highly finished presentation models, others are crude constructions used by the architects to explore design possibilities. Fragments of buildings that have been demolished or remodeled are also collected to document the built environment.


The Museum's architectural collection also contains a small number of photographs. These usually accompany a collection of drawings from an architectural firm and are organized by the job number assigned by the architectural firm.

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