We thought that prior to the Betty Rymer Gallery, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago did not have a student gallery. Student exhibitions were shown in classrooms or hallways.

Joyce Fernandes asked, “How can this be true of a school that opened in 1866?”, and we began to examine our assumptions about the Betty Rymer Gallery. Indeed, there is still student work shown in the hallways.

“It was like we were all grown-up. The walls were totally white and there was track lighting," said Tony Jones, former SAIC President and chancellor.

Yet the Columbus Drive Gallery, which opened on October 1976 and was the primary gallery for the School until the Betty Rymer Gallery opened, also had track lighting. But the Columbus Drive Gallery was located within a hallway between the Museum and the School was more of a passageway than a gallery.Perhaps the site of Betty Rymer Gallery, which requires the explicit action to cross a threshold, helped to situate the gallery as distinct from past spaces.

Or perhaps it is in the name. “Often galleries take the name of the owner. When we get a call, “May I speak with Betty Rymer?”, we know the person does not know the gallery. The gallery is not thought of as a memorial. Memorial is an activity or tells us about that person.” In the case of the Betty Rymer Gallery, the name suggests a history of knowledge about art and presentation. "Both the work and the attitude of the audience shifted when the Betty Rymer opened. The gallery informs how it (the work) is read. Space is approached with a mind set.” -Trevor Martin, Gallery Director Betty Rymer Gallery.