About Us

Our Mission


The mission of the AIDS Garden Chicago is to create and maintain a garden space for reflection and education of the AIDS Epidemic, its victims, survivors and history, to celebrate and honor its heroes and the ongoing work to eradicate HIV/AIDS.

The AIDS Garden will be built along the Belmont Rocks, a space the gay community would gather at since the early days of Chicago's LGBT movement. The Rocks were about claiming the right to be, to exist, to gather outside and to be out of the shadows and the closet. The AIDS Garden seeks to help preserve that memory and to honor the history of HIV/AIDS in Chicago. It is fitting to create a garden in that Belmont Rocks space.  

Since the early days of gay movement, the Belmont Rocks were a place to call our own. The lakefront stretch of stone and grass from Belmont to Diversey harbors was a public space Chicago’s LGBTQ community claimed from the 1960s through the 1990s. This was more than a frequented area. The Rocks were a political statement tied to our liberation, a symbol of our right to be here, our right to exist, and our right to gather outside and in the sunlight at a time when our bars still had blackened windows.  Community happened along this undesirable strip of uneven limestone blocks. Relationships and friendships happened here, hook-ups, unions, memorials, picnics, cookouts, dance parties, and rallies. Artwork covered many of these stones. At the Rocks, people lay in the sun, watched the sunset before going out, and sat to watch the sunrise after the bars closed.

In 2003 the Belmont Rocks were bulldozed and removed as part of a revetment project to safeguard against shoreline erosion. The Rocks themselves may be gone, but this portion of the Chicago shoreline will forever remain a place of celebration, joy, and remembrance in the pre-AIDS era and the throughout darkest days of the epidemic.

--Owen Keehnen 

Ground breaking for the AIDS Garden Chicago is anticipated in early 2019 and the garden should be completed by fall 2019.  

Our Committee Board

Currently led by Alderman Tom Tunney, the AIDS Garden Chicago Board is in formation.

Our Partners

The Chicago Parks Foundation is honored to serve as the fiscal partner for the AIDS Garden Chicago project.

Established in 2013, the Chicago Parks Foundation, in addition to grant management, provides fiscal partnership to foundations, organizations and individuals to who wish to support their Chicago parks and has created a public/private partnership with the Chicago Park District. 

As fiscal sponsor for the AIDS Garden Chicago, the Chicago Parks Foundation, extends the benefits of their 501c3 nonprofit status to this amazing and legacy park project and provides administrative support. Independent in the collaborative spirit, the Chicago Parks Foundation's mission to build a stronger community dedicated to supporting and conserving Chicago's parks.

Rosenthal Fine Art is located in the River North neighborhood of Chicago at

640 North LaSalle Drive, Suite 485 . The focus of the gallery is Modernism, Abstract Expressionism, Post-War, and Contemporary.

 The Gallery provides clients with a wide range of personalized services including appraisals and curatorial consultations, as well as continually providing new acquisitions and exhibitions.