Marwen was established in 1987 by Steven Berkowitz, a Chicago entrepreneur and avid art collector. His vision was for all Chicago youth to have access to the kind of opportunities that his daughters, Marcy and Wendy, had experienced as adolescents. Just four students attended our first drawing course, and it was from this humble beginning that Marwen began to grow.
By 1999, our programs had outgrown our original space, and a $2.9 million capital campaign was launched to purchase and renovate three floors of a nearby building. In January of 2000, operations officially moved to our current address at 833 North Orleans Street. The move from the original single-studio facility to one with six specialized studios, a dedicated college and career resource center, and spacious exhibition galleries provided ample room for significant expansion. Every year since we have added new courses and programs to serve more students with deeper programs. Now, six years later, Marwen’s programs will reach optimal capacity at current facility and staff levels.
In 2004, Marwen published Fuel: Giving Power the Youth to Succeed with arts educator Philip Yenawine. The book represents an extraordinary exercise in defining our organizational philosophies and programmatic methods. We are currently developing a new strategic plan—built upon the foundation begun with Fuel—with another expert consultant, Beth Feldman Brandt from Stockton Rush Bartol Foundation in Philadelphia. Brandt is assisting Marwen’s staff and board as we examine our current programs, evaluate the role each offering plays in achieving our mission, and determine our next stage of evolution.
Over the years, Marwen's programs have received much national attention, including grants from the National Endowment of the Arts, Surdna Foundation, and Wallace Foundation, as well as the Coming Up Taller Award from the President's Committee on the Arts & Humanities

United States