We occasionally ask you to show us something. This week it’s holograms formerly owned by Loren Billings.
Moshe Tamssot visited the Museum of Holography for the first time 21 years ago, when he first moved to Chicago. The museum’s owner, Loren Billings, gave him a tour. Tamssot was impressed. But later, when he tried to bring friends to see it, he discovered it had closed. Billings, who owned the building at 1134 W. Washington that housed the museum, had been persuaded by a group of unscrupulous investors to take out a $1 million bank loan using the building as collateral. Unable to make payments, she lost the property—and the museum.
When Hayden Connor bought the West Loop building in 2009, Billings’s holograms passed on to him. After Tamssot inquired about the collection, Connor allowed him two hours to look at them. “To see it in that condition, crammed into a tiny space . . . ” Tamssot says. “I got the sense Hayden was spooked.”
Tamssot, who is part of Monks of Invention, a group that seeks to bring together business leaders and investors to market new technology, decided to, as he puts it, “rally the troops” to save the museum. They found a space to display the holograms and curators to organize and catalog the collection, and arranged for a weekly series about the museum to run on WBEZ. But Tamssot says Connor balked.
He did, however, agree to let Tamssot display a few of the pieces on December 4 at 1112 W. Madison. Ed Wesly, a holography expert who worked at the museum when it was open and whom Connor has hired to catalog the collection, will give a lecture on the art and science of holography. Tamssot hopes the event will generate enough interest to convince Connor that the collection is worth saving. The ideal new home for it, he believes, is the Lucas Museum.
Tamssot has been trying, with little success, to find Billings, who dropped out of sight after the museum closed. But he hasn’t given up hope that someone will want to house the collection and the story will have a happy ending. “I’m still working the angles,” he says. “We want to honor Loren Billings.”