Each year since the Driehaus Museum opened in 2008 has come with its own sense of growth and accomplishment. But by all accounts, 2012 was a particularly wonderful, milestone-filled year. It started when, at the end of 2011, we made the transition from a young museum, formerly open on select days at certain times, into a full-time museum open six days a week.
Since then, the staff has been joking that we are no longer “Chicago’s best-kept secret.” The response of the community has been tremendous and is, for me, the highest point of 2012. Attendance increased from 7,500 visitors in 2011 to an astounding 21,000 this year. The amount of support and positive feedback we are receiving from guests is the most rewarding part—for example on TripAdvisor, where we today find ourselves ranked #9 of the nearly 300 wonderful attractions this city has to offer; or on comment cards, where I laughed aloud when reading one visitor’s playful note about our architecture: “What God would have done if He had the money”; or in conversations with one from our ever-growing community of dedicated members.
It has been deeply gratifying to speak with visitors as they make their way through the Museum on their own, on a tour, as part of a program, or at a cocktail party. Just as I myself continue to be amazed by this space every day, our visitors are also captured by the beauty of the Museum’s interiors and collection. They affirm what we strive to do: create a meaningful, high-quality experience in myriad ways, whether through expert Museum Guides who illuminate for tour-goers the complex web of culture, design, art, and history making intersections in our immersive environment or by carefully tending to the ongoing preservation of this historic treasure.
From our quite-appropriate offices in the mansion’s servants’ quarters, the staff has been working hard to meet all of our guests needs and expand our presence in every area, from public programs to collections, private and corporate event rentals, web and social media, membership, private group tours and visitor services, with many more initiatives yet to come.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been a part of this landmark year—visitors, members, sponsors, colleagues, community partners, vendors—and especially the Museum’s staff, Board of Directors and our Founder, Richard H. Driehaus. His creativity and vision inspire me every day, and as we work on a dizzying-array of exciting projects all set to launch in 2013, we continue to strive to create the type of museum he envisioned when restoration of the Nickerson Mansion started 10 years ago.
I suspect that 2013, which holds our fifth anniversary and many other exciting developments, will have even more highlights in store. Here’s to that.
Wishing you a very happy and healthy New Year,