Celebrating a Living Landmark — A Tribute to Tim Samuelson, Thursday, January 28 at 4–5pm

January 14, 2021

Virtual event will pay tribute to Tim Samuelson, Chicago’s first Cultural Historian, and preview an upcoming exhibition showcasing his vast collection of Chicago cultural artifacts

Jamey Lundblad    Jamey.Lundblad@cityofchicago.org


CHICAGO, IL — Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot and the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) today announced a tribute event to honor Chicago’s first Cultural Historian, Tim Samuelson. Samuelson recently retired after 33 years of public service but will continue as a DCASE volunteer — as Cultural Historian Emeritus.

The free Zoom event, “Celebrating a Living Landmark — a tribute to Tim Samuelson,” on Thursday, January 28 at 4–5pm will be fast-paced and playful, emceed by WTTW host and producer Geoffrey Baer and will feature a greeting from Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot, a music performance by The Galaxie Girls and special guest speakers including First Lady Amy Eshleman, DCASE Commissioner Mark Kelly, Lee Bey, Thomas Dyja, Blair Kamin, Rick Kogan, Reginald R. Robinson and many others. The public is invited to celebrate the life, spirit and exemplary career of this Living Landmark — and learn about plans for an upcoming Chicago Cultural Center exhibition showcasing his vast collection of Chicago cultural artifacts. Registration is requested by Tuesday, January 26: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/celebrating-a-living-landmark-a-tribute-to-tim-samuelson-tickets-136364807811

“Over his nearly two decades as Chicago’s official cultural historian, Tim Samuelson has been a walking encyclopedia of Chicago history and an invaluable resource to both our residents and visitors alike—not to mention three mayors,” said Mayor Lightfoot. “As a history lover myself, I have personally relished the moments I’ve had with Tim asking him questions and swapping stories on the many events, eras, and colorful personalities that’ve marked our city’s past.

“The term ‘irreplaceable’ is used a lot, but it really applies to people like Tim. Whether it’s serving mayors like myself, or by offering his expertise to fellow historians, businesses, journalists, politicians, museums, and more, there’s simply no one else who offers what Tim does. His passion for our city’s history not only shines in his boundless knowledge, but also in his work as an avid preservationist and collector where he’s lent his support to our city’s schools, agencies, and landmarks, along with private clients.

“When Tim was first hired as Chicago’s cultural historian, he was given the mandate to ‘help everybody.’ On behalf of all our residents, I want to extend my deep thanks to Tim for his immeasurable “help” over these many years, as well as offer my warm congratulations to him and his family for his well-earned retirement and the new adventures that lie ahead. I know I speak for countless people here in City Hall when I say how sad we are to see Tim go, but grateful to know his own impact on Chicago’s history will live on through our better understanding of our past as it guides us to build a better future for ourselves and this incredible city that we all call home.”

As Cultural Historian Emeritus, Samuelson will work with DCASE to mount a new permanent exhibition in the Chicago Cultural Center showcasing his vast collection of Chicago cultural artifacts. He will additionally be cataloging and digitizing his collection. The Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington Street, chicagoculturalcenter.org) is currently closed to the public due to COVID-19, but expected to reopen later this year with new exhibitions, building tours and other free cultural programs.

“My entire team and I extend heartfelt congratulations to Tim Samuelson — and sincere thanks for his many years of service to the City of Chicago,” said DCASE Commissioner Mark Kelly. “Tim is a ‘Living Landmark,’ one of Chicago's greatest champions of preservation and our city's storied history.”

Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
The Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events is dedicated to enriching Chicago’s artistic vitality and cultural vibrancy. This includes fostering the development of Chicago’s non-profit arts sector, independent working artists and for-profit arts businesses; providing a framework to guide the City’s future cultural and economic growth, via the 2012 Chicago Cultural Plan; marketing the City’s cultural assets to a worldwide audience; and presenting high-quality, free and affordable cultural programs for residents and visitors.

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