Mather Place residents and Scouts from Troop 2 work on the chairs given to McCormick Place. (Photo credit: Mather Place)

The McCormick Place convention center in Chicago features a wide array of art from across the world in its public art collection. The newest pieces, however, don’t come from across the ocean.

They come from up the shore of Lake Michigan. Residents of Mather Place, an independent living community in Wilmette, IL, collaborated with a scout troop and high school volunteers to create four rocking chairs and a large drum table. The items made their debut at the LeadingAge Annual Meeting, Nov. 5 to 8.

“At McCormick Place, we believe in using art to engage and educate visitors from all corners of the globe,” said Nicol Chervenak, director of planning and program management at the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority, which owns the convention center. “With a collection featuring over 100 pieces by local and international artists, we’ve embedded art into the very soul of our venue, and these wonderful pieces of furniture will only add to the experience our visitors enjoy.”

Seven youth and teen volunteers and 25 Mather Place residents worked together to complete the project over six months. The furniture design includes imagery of Illinois prairies and poses beautiful questions mosaiced onto the table to invite conversation. In addition to being an opportunity to create beautiful art, it also was an opportunity to connect generations that may not otherwise interact with each other frequently. 

“I learned the importance of intergenerational interaction. It really showed me how valuable that can be,” said Ruby Pan, a high school volunteer. “I enjoyed hearing about the residents’ life experiences and their stories, and the connections that I made.”

Although the conference has ended, the handiwork of the intergenerational team will remain in the exhibit for other visitors to enjoy, proof that great things can be accomplished when generations put their heads together.

The ongoing exhibit will be “exposing the thousands of future McCormick Place visitors to explore the benefits of intergenerational connections,” said Sharon Sullivan, vice president of brand experience and head of conferences at LeadingAge. “We’re thrilled to add these MPEA’s collection.”

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