Manilow was known as one of the founders of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. He helped fund the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, in collaboration with Joseph Randall Shapiro and other contemporary art collectors in 1967 when Hugh Hefner made the former Playboy Enterprises-owned space on 237 E. Ontario St. available.
He was a principal backer and longtime honorary president of Chicago's Goodman Theatre and the developer of the town of University Park, Illinois, where he was instrumental in the creation of the Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park, a monumental internationally recognized outdoor sculpture park at Governors State University.
Manilow was a lifetime trustee of the Art Institute of Chicago, served as a member of the U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy, and served on the boards of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs, the Progressive Policy Institute, the Visiting Committee of the University of Chicago's Harris School of Public Policy, and the Executive Committee of the Chicago Community Trust.
Manilow was awarded the National Medal of Arts in 2000.
In 1970 Manilow married his second wife, Susan (née Rosenberg), who came from a powerful West Side Jewish political family, former wife of Edwin W. Eisendrath Jr. and the mother of Edwin Eisendrath. The two were married for almost half a century, until his death.
- Jewish World Review; accessed December 13, 2017.
- Obituary, Chicago Sun-Times; accessed December 13, 2017.
- Zetouni, Sigalit.(December 9, 2009)."Moving the Zeitgeist", Chicago Life; retrieved January 3, 2010.
- Carol Felsenthal, Who Is Edwin Eisendrath?, Chicago, June 22, 2017.
- Ben Joravsky, Why Is This Man Running?, The Chicago Reader, February 15, 1990.
- Kirshner, Judith Russi, and Anselm Kiefer. Lewis Manilow, a Birthday Book. Chicago: New Art Examiner Press, 1997. OCLC 82410978
- U.S. Advisory Commission on Public Diplomacy profile
- Nathan Manilow Sculpture Park profile (Governors State University)
- 2001 Illinois Legislature resolution honoring Lewis Manilow
- "What's a Dem donor to do?" Chicago Business, Jan. 15, 2007
- "17th C. West Anatolian Coupled-Column Prayer Rug Probably Oushak From the Lewis Manilow Collection"
- Bob Goldsborough, Lewis Manilow, philanthropist who played key roles with MCA, Loop theater district, dies at 90, The Chicago Tribune, December 12, 2017 (obituary)
- Maureen O'Donnell, Lewis Manilow dies, helped found Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, The Chicago Sun-Times, December 13, 2017 (obituary)