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Open Call: The Elmhurst Art Museum Resurrects ‘Par Excellence,’ an Artist-Designed Mini Golf Course from 1988

October 2, 2019

Colossal

In a unique collision of recreation and art, the Elmhurst Art Museum will commission an 18-hole artist-designed golf course in homage to the wildly popular 1988 exhibition Par Excellence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. The fully playable course will be conceived and fabricated by a new group of contemporary artists, designers, and architects selected through an open call process. Designed to fill the entirety of the museum’s interior galleries, the course will be comprised of a surprisingly varied collection of themes and forms, promising an unusual twist on a familiar pastime.

The extraordinarily popular exhibition was the brainchild of sculptor Michael O’Brien and opened to lines down the block. The show sold out daily and found its way to the pages of the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, People Magazine, CNN, and the Chicago Tribune among others. The course went on tour to downstate Illinois before returning to Chicago as a rebranded commercial miniature golf course called ArtGolf at 1800 N. Clybourn in Lincoln Park (currently the site of Goose Island Brewery).

Artist-designed golf courses are now a popular addition to many Midwest museums such as the Walker Art Center, The Sheldon, and Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, but Par Excellence is widely believed to be the first.

Par Excellence Redux is curated by Colossal’s founder & editor-in-chief Christopher Jobson. To learn more about the open call process and submit your ideas for a hole, head on over to the Elmhurst Art Museum for more info.

Archival photos of Par Excellence & ArtGolf 1988-1992

 

 

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