Spurlock museum hosts talk on Chicago philanthropist


The Daily Illini File Photo

The woods at the University-owned Allerton Park are about 20 minutes off campus. Assistant Opinions editor Jamie says this is a great location for a quick trip before graduation.

By Haipei Wu, Staff Writer

As a part of its Thursday series, the Spurlock Museum is going to host a discussion on Robert Allerton from 4 to 5 p.m.

Allerton is the philanthropist who donated the 5,500-acre Allerton Park to the University in 1946.

In addition to donating his estate to the University as a park and retreat center, Allerton has donated to a number of hospitals and museums, as well as helping the fundraising effort in WWI and WWII, said Maureen Holtz, the guest speaker who has written two books on Allerton, including one biography.

“Robert Allerton was a much more philanthropic person than people realize,” Holtz said. “I hope attendees come away with a lot more knowledge about his work and the cultural society with which he surrounded himself.”

Allerton was named “Chicago’s Richest Bachelor” by the Chicago Tribune in 1906. And, Holtz said he is recognized as the greatest living benefactor for the Art Institute of Chicago after donating thousands of collectibles to the museum.

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“I hope that people learn enough about Allerton that they realize what a gem we have in Allerton Park being available to the public,” Holtz said. “I look forward to whatever questions attendees may have.”

Kim Sheahan, assistant director of education in Spurlock Museum, said she expects audiences from a variety of background.

“The great thing about this talk is that we think it will appeal to a number of audiences: people interested in Mr. Allerton, interested in the history of the University, interested in gardens and historic homes, and interested in the history of central Illinois, as well as people who have visited Allerton Park in the past and want to learn more about it,” Sheahan said.

Spurlock Museum’s Thursday series focuses on University-based topics, Sheahan said. The series is held in conjunction with the museum’s temporary exhibit “Knowledge at Work: The University of Illinois at 150″ to celebrate the history of the communities on campus.

The topics for the Thursday series are already planned for some upcoming months, including “Holy Alliance: The Influence of Religion at the University of Illinois” in June, the history of the University of Illinois Press in August and a panel discussion on the history of labor on campus in September.

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