Roger Brown Study Collection, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Roger Brown, b 1941- d 1997
1926 N. Halsted Street , Chicago, IL 60614 - view on Google Maps
773. 929-2452
“[My collection is] of universal appeal to all artists and people with a sense of the spiritual & mystical nature that material things can evoke.”
—Roger Brown
Roger Brown’s extensive collection of art––a mélange of objects from many cultures and genres––is preserved as an artists’ museum in an 1880s storefront building, modified by Brown into a studio, residence/collection, and garden, reflecting his aesthetic and suiting the needs of this late 20th century artist. Like stepping into the artist’s mind, the RBSC is a kaleidoscopic experience of objects arranged by Brown into a visual gesamtkunstwerk.


Born and raised in Alabama, Roger Brown studied at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) earning his BFA in 1968 and his MFA in 1970. Works by Brown and fellow students were shown in spirited “Chicago School” exhibitions at the Hyde Park Art Center (1966 to 1971) and this loosely associated group of artists became known as Chicago Imagists. Working independently of New York contemporary art trends, they embraced many aspects of popular culture and vernacular imagery. Known primarily as a painter, Brown made sculpture, prints, sets and costumes for theatre and opera, and large-scale public murals.

An essential aspect of Brown’s artistic path was the creation of home/studio/garden/collection settings, beginning with his Chicago home, now SAIC’s Roger Brown Study Collection. The RBSC includes works by Chicago Imagists, self-taught artists, folk and tribal art, material culture, costumes, furniture, flea market treasures, an extensive archive, and a Ford Mustang in the garage. Brown required a stimulating, object-filled environment to feed and support the demanding work of being an artist; the RBSC encapsulates his intensive, intuitive engagement with the material world, and a collecting sensibility shared by many Chicago artists. The 1888 storefront building and collections inside function as a laboratory where students engage in object studies and many aspects of the care, organization, interpretation, and preservation of collections in a unique setting. Guests experience a rare, intact artist’s collection, a place to engage in wonder.

SAIC became the primary repository for the personal, professional, and artistic effects of Roger Brown. In his lifetime he gave the School his home and collection in New Buffalo, Michigan, and his Chicago collection of art and archives. He bequeathed his La Conchita, CA home, and all his paintings to SAIC in 1997.

Did you know...?

The RBSC has one gift shop in the dishwasher; another––a garage sale––shares space with Brown’s 1964 Ford Mustang, in the garage (of course!).


Named after Roger Brown’s parents, the James Gordon and Elizabeth Palmer Brown Archive includes materials from Brown’s Chicago, Michigan, and California homes:
• Brown’s original sketchbooks
• Slides and photographs
• Personal and professional correspondence
• Writings about art and life
• Architectural records
• Studies and models for opera and large-scale projects
• Prints and works on paper by Brown and other artists
• Long playing vinyl phonograph records
• Comics
• Video, audio, and cassette tapes
• Books (art, culture, fiction, non-fiction)
• A treasure trove of excellent ephemera
• Documentation of selected Chicago Imagist Artists from the Phyllis Kind Gallery
• Documentation of self-taught artists from the Phyllis Kind Gallery

In addition to the house museum collection, RBSC Overflow Inventory includes stray objects, toys, novelty items, and ephemera from Brown’s studio, workshop, and office. A slideshow of these items can be viewed, and objects can be shown by advance appointment.

SAIC's Roger Brown Estate (paintings and prints available for loan to museum exhibitions and for sale) is represented by Kavi Gupta.

SAIC and Kavi Gupta are pleased to collaborate with Venus Over Manhattan on their exhibition Roger Brown (November 12, 2019 – January 11, 2020), and exciting future projects.

The RBSC maintains a catalog of Brown’s work from his entire career. We strive to include information about the public and private collections in which all works of art reside. This registry facilitates locating works for museum loans and reproduction permissions, and will form the basis of an eventual catalogue raisonné. Collectors of works by Roger Brown are invited to provide their contact information and information about the work(s) for inclusion in this database. Contact information is kept confidential and is not shared.

SAIC owns © to all of Brown’s works (unless otherwise assigned), and the RBSC manages reproduction rights.


  • Tour the collection, Roger Brown’s Artists’ Museum of Chicago.
  • View Brown’s sketchbooks and other archival materials.
  • Relax in the garden during spring, summer, and fall; bring a picnic.
  • Linger in the collection to gaze, reflect, draw, photograph, and write.
  • Schedule a tour with a custom-tailored slide presentation.
  • Meditate in a room with 36 drawings by Joseph Yoakum.


  • Art Institute of Chicago
  • Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago
  • Smart Museum, Chicago
  • Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY
  • Museum of Modern Art, NY
  • Whitney Museum of American Art, NY
  • Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
  • Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, D.C.
  • Milwaukee Art Museum, WI
  • Cedar Rapids Art Museum, IA
  • Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, MO
  • High Museum of Art, Atlanta
  • Portland Museum of Art, OR
  • Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh
  • Moderner Kunst / Museum des 20. Jahrhunderts, Vienna
  • Brown designed four Italian glass mosaic murals. These were created by the Travisa Mutto / Crovatto Studios in Stilimbergo, Italy, and installed in public settings in the U.S.
  • Foley Square Federal Building, 290 Broadway, New York City
  • Howard Brown Health Center, 4025 North Sheridan Road, Chicago