Chicago History Museum offers Public Programs for “City on Fire: Chicago 1871”

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Chicago History Museum Announces Unique Line Up of Public Programs and Community Partnerships Ahead of City on Fire: Chicago 1871 Opening

Programming and Events will Continue for the Entirety of the Exhibition 

The Chicago History Museum is marking the 150th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire with extensive public programming in tandem with its newest exhibition, City on Fire: Chicago 1871, opening to the public on October 8th. Programming includes family friendly activities, walking tours, author talks, social events, and more to engage visitors with this historic event that shaped Chicago. Public programs will run throughout the course of the exhibition with additional programs announced regularly.

Lithograph titled the Fire Escape. Illustration features a group of women and children trying to escape a burning building during the Chicago Fire of 1871.

“Reinforcing the message of City on Fire: Chicago 1871 through public programs across our communities directly supports our mission to share Chicago stories from diverse perspectives.” said Donald Lassere, president and CEO of the Chicago History Museum. “These programs underscore the importance of the Great Chicago Fire and its lasting impact on our city. We are honored to partner with several local organizations to bring these programs to life.”

Lithograph titled Chicago in Flames: Burning of the Chamber of Commerce, depicting crowds running from the Chamber of Commerce during the Chicago Fire of 1871, Chicago, Illinois.

City on Fire: Chicago 1871 public programming gives visitors the chance to deepen their understanding of the historic event through family friendly activities, movie screenings, live performances, and more. The Museum’s annual Family Day encourages children and families to explore and discover the story of the fire through accounts by people who lived through it. The event will feature a hands-on workshop with Chicago Mobile Makers, a real-life encounter with a fire engine from the Chicago Fire Department and a live performance from the Apollo Chorus, which was founded after the fire to boost morale. Learn more while staying social with programs such as a City on Fire themed trivia night at The Hideout, made possible through a partnership with the Newberry Library and public historian Paul Durica, or History Happy Hour at the Museum.

Illustration of an aerial view of the Chicago Fire of 1871, Chicago, Illinois. Image shows a portion of the city on fire and ships and boats in Lake Michigan.

Additional programs include a Great Chicago Fire Bus Tour in partnership with Chicago Architecture Center, City on Fire Author Talks, and Movies in the Park in partnership with the Chicago Park District. Upcoming workshops with the Chicago Mobile Makers will encourage children to get creative by designing their ideal community and think about problem solving through design. Families will work together to build a custom city that works for all people, keeping community health and wellness in mind. 

Fire of 1871- The Burning of Chicago (bridge scene)

The Chicago History Museum is honored to work with several local organizations including Chicago Fire Department, Chicago Architecture Center, Driehaus Museum, Chicago Public Library, DCASE, and the Mayor’s Office to bring City on Fire: Chicago 1871programmingto the forefront. For more information and to register forprogramming and events, please visit:



The Chicago History Museum, a major museum and research center for Chicago and American history, is located at 1601 N. Clark Street. The Museum has dedicated more than a century to celebrating and sharing Chicago’s stories through dynamic exhibitions, tours, publications, special events and programming. The Museum collects and preserves millions of artifacts, documents and images to help audiences connect to the city and its history. The Chicago History Museum gratefully acknowledges the support of the Chicago Park District on behalf of the people of Chicago. The Chicago History Museum is a 2016 winner of the National Medal for Museum and Library Service, the highest award given to these institutions for their community engagement and having an impact on the lives of individuals, families, and communities.

Illustration of a bird’s-eye view of the city of Chicago on fire during the Fire of 1871. Looking west from Lake Michigan.

 Photo credit: Chicago History Museum

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