L.H. Selman Glass Gallery – Chicago, Illinois - Atlas Obscura

L.H. Selman Glass Gallery

Over 1,000 pieces of one of the most niche art objects imaginable: the glass paperweight. 


Just a few paces from Mag Mile and the Art Institute of Chicago sits the Fine Arts Building, a hodgepodge of artsy studio and exhibition spaces that seem ripped right out of a Wes Anderson movie. Among the neighboring puppet makers, fine instrument repairs, and speciality bookstores, the quaint L.H. Selman Glass Gallery manages to hold its own by showing off the surprising diversity of its highly specialized stock.

Though L.H. Selman has been around for over half a century, the gallery has only been housed in Chicago for about 10 years. During this time, the company has displayed and auctioned off thousands and thousands of modern and antique paperweights, the production of which boomed in the mid-19th century, dwindled off, and then revived again in the middle of the 20th century.

While the gallery certainly features a lot of “typical” paperweight subject matter—flowers, birds, fruit, and such—it also has a number of unusual pieces depicting skulls, galaxies, and celebrities. The craftsmanship of all of the pieces is so astonishing that even the flowers, birds, and fruits shouldn’t be dismissed as mundane. L.H. Selman’s gallery is perfect for those looking for glassy art in a classy building.

Know Before You Go

Take the human-operated elevator to the second floor of the Fine Arts Building. There's a lovely bookshop called The Dial next door!

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July 19, 2019

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