Intuit to conserve contents of Henry Darger’s Room as part of Caring for a Chicago Legacy: Room to be dismantled, re-imagined

September 17, 2021

Intuit to conserve contents of Henry Darger’s Room as part of Caring for a Chicago Legacy: Room to be dismantled, re-imagined

Installation photograph of the Henry Darger Room, its fireplace and table with paint materials
Installation view of the Henry Darger Room Collection at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art. Photo © John Faier

September 17, 2021—CHICAGO—Elements of Intuit’s Henry Darger Room, an evocation of the renowned outsider artist’s one-room home studio and a hallmark Chicago attraction, will be dismantled for conservation review in full view of visitors at the conclusion of Caring for a Chicago Legacy, a temporary exhibit opening on Friday, September 24.

Caring for a Chicago Legacy is the third and final exhibition in the series Henry Darger: The Room Revealed, which draws upon the Henry Darger Room Collection and Archive to explore questions about the author and artist and his work, in collaboration with audiences and scholars. Featuring items from Darger’s collection, Caring for a Chicago Legacy focuses on the importance of place—his residence, his community—and explores Chicago connections like the Iroquois Theatre Fire, the 1933 World’s Fair and the city’s architecture in Darger’s visual art and writings.

The exhibition and series will culminate in the temporary de-installation of the Henry Darger Room for conservation assessment, due to growing concern about the fragility of the objects on view. De-installation will take place in public view and begin on October 12, making Sunday, October 10, the last day guests will see the Room intact until Intuit re-installs the exhibit. Intuit will use the feedback received from guests and scholars throughout the series to inform the Room’s future installation.

Caring for a Chicago Legacy is curated by Intuit Chief Curator Alison Amick with guest curators Michael Bonesteel, Leisa Rundquist and Mary Trent and will be on view until Sunday, October 31, 2021.

Henry Darger: The Room Revealed is funded by the Terra Foundation for American Art and conservation review is supported by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts.


Henry Darger (1892–1973)—arguably the most well-known outsider artist—is many art enthusiasts’ introduction to the genre. He is the subject of extensive scholarly investigation and popular culture interest, evident in pieces of music, theater and literature. For a time in his youth, he lived in the Asylum for Feeble-Minded Children, formerly in Lincoln, Ill., after which he lived a mostly reclusive life in a one-room home studio in Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood. Upon his death, an extensive body of his art and writings was discovered, including a 15,000-page novel. His work addresses themes of gender, religion, violence and adoption, among others. In 2000, his former landlady, Kiyoko Lerner, donated the remaining contents of his space to Intuit, installed as an ongoing exhibition in 2008, what is now known as the Henry Darger Room Collection.


Founded in 1991, Intuit is a premier museum of outsider and self-taught art, defined as work created by artists who faced marginalization, overcame personal odds to make their artwork, or who did not, or sometimes could not, follow a traditional path of art making, often using materials at hand to realize their artistic vision. By presenting a diversity of artistic voices, Intuit builds a bridge from art to audiences. The museum’s mission—to celebrate the power of outsider art—is grounded in the ethos that powerful art can be found in unexpected places and made by unexpected creators.

Intuit is open 11 a.m.–6 p.m. Thursday through Sunday and by appointment on Tuesday and Wednesday. For more information, please visit Plan Your Visit.