On July 7th, the office of Mayor Lori E Lightfoot issued a press release including a report detailing future plans for the iconic Chicago Museum Campus. The Mayor’s office unveiled a museum campus working group in February to help present recommendations “for new campus activations through arts and culture, transportation, education, youth services, and more.” The working group is composed of leaders and policymakers from around Chicago with experience in “key issue areas.” Their focus includes solving for needed cultural amenities, expanding publically accessible recreation space, maximizing athletic facilities, and creating more equitable transit access.
The latest release regarding the Museum Campus includes the most up-to-date iteration of these plans including renderings and more clarity on how this revival could unfold. The report consists of over thirty-five recommendations for the city to consider implementing as a means to improve the current campus experience.
Much of the group’s recommendations focus on driving more traffic to the campus by improving access, emphasizing and reimagining outdoor space, and re-energizing Soldier Field. Utilizing native species in landscaping is also a crucial point of the plan. The report says that in order to “unify the campus experience, the working group recommends implementing a coordinated landscaping approach using native vegetation.” The thought here is that by coordinating and collaborating across institutions, this landscaping effort will not only tie the campus together, but it would also position the Lakefront campuses as models for sustainability and highlight Chicago’s ongoing role as “a leader in urban climate resilience.”
The campus revitalization efforts outlined in the report are multi-year endeavors. There are a number of initiatives that could be accomplished on a shorter-term timeline, however, the more transformative elements of the proposal “will require long-term focus with meaningful and authentic engagement.” As of yet, full funding for the plan has not been articulated making an anticipated timeline difficult to predict.