The inaugural exhibition of the Illinois Governor’s Mansion, Art of Illinois examined the creative achievement of fine and applied arts practitioners working in Illinois from the mid-nineteenth century to the present. In more than 100 paintings, sculptures, works of furniture, and examples of metalwork, ceramics, and glass, Art of Illinois emphasized the historical depth and richness of the state’s artistic legacy, the diversity of Chicago’s and Illinois’ creative community, and the ways the places and people of Illinois, especially Chicago, have inspired artists. Drawn from collections statewide, the exhibited works showcased the variety of settings—from museums and galleries to historic sites and educational institutions—in which the state’s art and design heritage is preserved and presented. 

The exhibition was organized by curators Wendy Greenhouse and Sharon Darling and collections manager Terri Sinnott. 

A 180-page catalogue of the exhibition, featuring full-color reproductions of every object as well as overview essays by the curators, is available from the Illinois Governor’s Mansion Association for $25. To order copies, email

Click the images below to scroll through a selection of works in the exhibition. 

Thank you to our generous sponsors.


In Memoriam: John H. Bryan, Jr. (1936-2018)

The Illinois Governor’s Mansion Association celebrates the life and contributions of the late John H. Bryan, Jr., a major benefactor of the Mansion renovation and the Art of Illinois exhibit in particular. 

A native of West Point, Mississippi and alumnus of Rhodes College, Mr. Bryan ran his family’s specialty meat business, Bryan Foods, from the age of 23, and ultimately sold the business to Chicago-based consumer products giant, Consolidated Foods, in 1968. He then moved to Chicago and stayed on with the acquiring company to oversee the family business and was promoted to be Consolidated Foods’ president in 1974 and then, a year later, its CEO.  He changed the name of the company to Sara Lee in order to highlight its largest consumer brand.  Under Mr. Bryan’s leadership, Sara Lee prospered and greatly expanded its business overseas during his quarter-century tenure at the helm. 

Mr. Bryan was deeply committed to the renovation of the Governor’s Mansion, particularly the creation of the “Art of Illinois” exhibit.  He felt it vitally important to re-establish the Governor’s Mansion as a symbol of civic pride for the citizens of Illinois and to use the art exhibit as a means of showcasing, for the first time ever, the creativity of Illinois artists. First Lady Diana Rauner often credited Mr. Bryan for being a guiding force of the Governor’s Mansion renovation and the creation of the Art of Illinois exhibit.  

Mr. Bryan’s legacy as a philanthropist and patron of the arts will continue to live on within the walls of the Illinois Governor’s Mansion for generations to come.