Merchandise Mart International Antiques Fair sees large crowds, to the delight of hopeful dealers

CHICAGO – The 12th annual Merchandise Mart International Antiques Fair brought 115 dealers and thousands of visitors to The Merchandise Mart, Chicago from May 1-4, 2009.

Its success once again designated the show as the leading antiques fair in the Midwest. It was part of the Artropolis, Chicago’s celebration of art, antiques and culture. Artropolis featured three separate shows which were co-located at The Merchandise Mart—Art Chicago, The Merchandise Mart International Antiques Fair and NEXT, which collectively brought in nearly 50,000 visitors.

“Now in its third year, the Antiques Fair, combined with Art Chicago, became a must-attend event,” said Jennifer Woolford, senior vice president of consumer shows, MMPI. “The Spring Fair featured 115 high caliber dealers representing a wide variety of genres and boasted knowledgeable buyers interested in both art and antiques.”

The Antiques Fair began with a preview party on April 30, benefiting the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC). “People from throughout the community attended and everyone showed their overwhelming support for the RIC and the Antiques Fair,” said Anne Hokin, party chair for the RIC. “The continued support of the Antiques Fair has been a great benefit to the RIC over the last 12 years.”

This year’s Antiques Fair was filled with a variety of special events and presentations. On May 1, Martha Stewart gave the keynote address to more than 300 attendees. Ms. Stewart spoke enthusiastically about how she is a long-time collector, special antiques she has had over the years and how anyone can incorporate antiques into their home décor.

Before the keynote address, Ms. Stewart toured the Antiques Fair and met with several dealers of the show. She also attended a private breakfast at bluprint, in the Merchandise Mart. More than 100 interior designers and VIPs gathered to welcome Ms. Stewart at the private breakfast, sponsored by bluprint.

In addition to the keynote, two other lectures rounded out the four-day event, continuing the Fair’s tradition of being a place where new and seasoned collectors can come to learn. On May 1, design and decorative arts historian Emily Evan Eerdmans gave a lecture on 20th century neoclassicism – from high style Art Deco to Hollywood stage sets. The basis of Ms. Eerdmans’ research comes from her new book, Regency Redux. On May 2, Ginny Berg, publisher of Chicago Gallery News, held a lecture designed for new and curious collectors. She spoke about the basics of antiques while highlighting affordability and antiques as statement pieces that showcase a person’s individuality.

Ten of the area’s top designers scoured the Fair before it opened for the “My Favorite Things – Designer Trend Watch.” On May 1, the designers spoke with Fair guests about the piece they chose and how they would use it in design. Pieces chosen by the designers ranged from an English mother of pearl tea caddy from Sallea Antiques to a large Biedermeier armoire from Rita Bucheit gallery.

The next Merchandise Mart International Antiques Fair will be held from Oct. 1-2, 2009. More than 100 dealers will exhibit in the fair and showcase the finest in 20th century design, Americana, architectural design, and Asian art. For more information visit or call 800-677-6278 (MART).