American Folk Art Museum
The Henry Darger Study Center
Henry Darger (1892–1973), one of the most prominent artists of the twentieth century, lived and worked for more than forty years in a rented room in Chicago’s Lincoln Park area, where he created an imaginary world for his personal satisfaction. Shortly before he died, Darger’s artwork was discovered, and subsequently made public, by his landlord, the artist and designer Nathan Lerner. What Lerner found were four unpublished manuscripts comprising more than thirty thousand pages of text; more than three hundred watercolor paintings that are often longer than nine feet; and thousands of ephemera Darger collected and used in his artistic process.

The Henry Darger Study Center, established by the museum in 2000 to foster open inquiry and multidisciplinary research into the life and work of the self-taught artist, houses all four manuscripts and more than two dozen double-sided paintings, as well as approximately three thousand items from Darger’s archive of ephemera and source material. This effort received substantial encouragement from Nathan Lerner's widow, Kiyoko Lerner. She generously donated to the museum Darger’s personal archive—including diaries, correspondence, notebooks, studies, tracings, photographs, books, and paper ephemera—and the manuscripts and typescripts of his vast literary works. This comprehensive collection is one of a kind in the world of the art of the self-taught and is the largest public collection of works by Darger; it is also the largest collection of work by a single artist in the museum’s holdings. As a result, the museum has become the most important institution for scholars interested in the work of Henry Darger.
The Henry Darger Study Center Fellowship
Every year, the museum receives countless requests for access to its Henry Darger Study Center. Committed to furthering the research on Darger and contemporary self-taught artists in general, the museum established the annual Henry Darger Study Center Fellowship in 2008, an initiative generously funded by Margaret Z. Robson. Each year, a fellow is selected to work closely with the museum’s staff to study the museum’s Darger collection in depth for four weeks in the summer and/or fall. Access to the library and permanent collection will aid the fellow in researching the artist’s manuscripts, artwork, and archive.

2009 Fellows: Jaimy Mann and Kevin Miller
2008 Fellow: Mary Trent

Download Kevin Miller’s paper, “The Art Student: Henry Darger and A Step-Ladder to Painting.”
Publications
Collection Catalog
Darger: The Henry Darger Collection at the American Folk Art Museum
By Brooke Davis Anderson, with Michel Thévoz; foreword by Kiyoko Lerner. New York: Harry N. Abrams in association with the American Folk Art Museum, 2001. 128 pages.

Related Book
Henry Darger
By Klaus Biesenbach, with Brooke Davis Anderson, Michael Bonesteel, and Carl Watson. New York: Prestel Publishing in cooperation with the American Folk Art Museum, 2009. 304 pages.

Both titles available at the museum shop.
Resources
• PBS’s POV interactive Darger website
• PBS’s POV audio tour of Darger works
In the Realms of the Unreal: The Mystery of Henry Darger (2003), documentary film by Jessica Yu