BFI NewsMar 04, 2016

Exhibit Highlights the History of Chicago Economics

Behind the Nobel Prize-winning tradition of University of Chicago economics lies more than a century of brilliant thinkers, fearless inquiry, and influential ideas.

The Becker Friedman Institute brings the stories of those economic innovators and their insights to life in the new Chicago Economic Experience. This multimedia exhibit, located in the Saieh Hall for Economics in the heart of the UChicago campus, opens March 9, 2016.  The exhibit is free and open to the public weekdays from 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

The exhibit’s museum-quality multimedia displays immerse visitors in the evolution of powerful ideas born and tested nearby. In a quick visit, guests can see a Nobel Prize medal up close, or linger to learn more about the evolution of an economic idea.

The exhibit introduces new generations to the influential and incredibly durable tradition of Chicago economics, and deepens the understanding of those who already know some of the story. “Economics at the University of Chicago has a unique and incredibly rich intellectual history.  This history is simultaneously formidable and complex and not reducible to simple slogans,” said Lars Peter Hansen, director and co-chair of the institute and David Rockefeller Distinguished Professor of Economics and Statistics. “We created this exhibit to probe this past, and to understand better our challenges going forward in building on this rich tradition.”

Initially the exhibit will feature displays on the institute’s namesakes, Gary S. Becker and Milton Friedman, both of whom are icons of Chicago economics. A centerpiece of the exhibit is a display of several of the prizes and honors awarded to these highly accomplished scholars. Other displays highlight the vibrancy of economic research at Chicago in an “Economics Everywhere” exhibit and outline some of that research’s lasting impact. Future displays will feature other economists, areas of expertise and unique contributions, highlighting the often-divergent views and competing approaches that served to test and refined ideas.

“The stories in this exhibit will tell the story of Chicago economics as a powerful scientific approach to understanding human behavior,” said institute co-chair Kevin Murphy, the George J. Stigler Distinguished Professor of Economics.  “It’s great to celebrate the impact of Chicago economics here in Saieh Hall where the tradition is continuing,” he added.

Centrally located near Saieh Hall’s grand lobby, the Chicago Economic Experience is also conveniently located near some of the most notable historical and cultural attractions around the UChicago campus: Robie House, the Oriental Institute, the Smart Museum of Art, and the DuSable Museum of African American History are all nearby. Visitors spending a day in Hyde Park can conveniently stop in and learn about the origins of ideas that shaped business, markets, policies and governments, and have become part of our everyday thinking.

Special tours of the exhibit can be arranged for evenings and weekends upon request by contacting the Becker Friedman Institute at 773-702-5599.

The institute gratefully acknowledges the generous support of donors who made the exhibit possible: Bernard J. DelGiorno, AB’54, AB’55, MBA’55; Ling Z. and Michael C. Markovitz, AM’73, PhD’75; and Barbara Landis and Barre Seid, LAB’46, PhB’50. Monica and Charles P. McQuaid, MBA’76, provided additional support.