Museum of Contemporary Art
Museum of Contemporary Art
10 am - 5 pm Wednesday through Sunday
The mission of the MCA is to be an innovative and compelling center of contemporary art where the public can directly experience the work and ideas of living artists, and understand the historical, social and cultural context of the art of our time.
The Museum boldly interweaves exhibitions, performances, collections and educational programs to excite, challenge and illuminate our visitors and to provide insight into the creative process.
The MCA aspires to engage a broad and diverse audience, create a sense of community and be a place for contemplation, stimulation and discussion about contemporary art and culture.
As one of Chicago ’s major museum buildings and one of the nation’s largest facilities devoted to the art of our time, the MCA offers exhibitions of the most thought-provoking art created since 1945. The MCA documents contemporary visual culture through painting, sculpture, photography, video and film, and performance. Located near the historic Water Tower in the heart of the Magnificent Mile, the MCA features special exhibition spaces, naturally-lit collection galleries, a 300-seat theater, gift store, bookstore, café, and a terraced sculpture garden with a view of Lake Michigan .
The MCA was opened as a kunsthalle in October 1967 by a group of culturally concerned Chicagoans who recognized the need for an internationally oriented forum for contemporary art in the city. Within six years, the Museum had made a commitment to building a permanent collection. In 1979, the MCA expanded into an adjacent townhouse, in the process growing to 33,000 square feet, including 11,000 square feet of exhibition space. In 1992, the MCA selected from an international field of 200 applicants Berlin-based architect Josef Paul Kleihues to design its new building and sculpture garden, his first U.S. commission. The new building opened in July 1996. With nearly seven times the square footage of the Museum’s previous facility on Ontario Street , the MCA for the first time has space to install temporary exhibitions and works from its collection simultaneously.
The MCA Collection provides an historical context for examining continuing developments in contemporary art. The collection includes over 5,700 works and features notable strengths in Minimalism, Postminimalism, Conceptualism, Surrealism, and artists’ books, as well as works by Chicago-based artists. Among the artists within the MCA Collection are Lee Bontecou, Alexander Calder, Sol LeWitt, Kerry James Marshall, and Bruce Nauman. The collection also includes works by Francis Bacon, Ann Hamilton, Alfredo Jaar, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, René Magritte, Ed Paschke, Ad Reinhardt, Richard Serra, Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson, and Andy Warhol.
Since its founding in 1967, the MCA has earned an international reputation for presenting ground-breaking exhibitions of work by local, national, and international artists. In 1969, Christo wrapped the museum and galleries with 8,000 square feet of tarpaulin and rope in the artist’s first building wrap. In 1978, Gordon Matta-Clark sawed through the walls and floors of the museum’s new annex to create the first “ex-stallation” in the space. In 1989, the touring exhibition Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment drew the highest attendance in the MCA’s history. In 1996, the MCA’s inaugural year of exhibitions in its new home featured a major installation of 110 works from its collection as well as Art in Chicago , 1945-1995, the first in-depth survey of art developed within the cultural, social, and political life of Chicago since World War II. Recent touring exhibitions organized by the MCA include exhibits on the work by Cindy Sherman, Tom Friedman, H.C. Westermann, William Kentridge, and Lee Bontecou.
The MCA’s commitment to performance programming was enhanced by the expanded facilities in its new building, which provides a state-of-the-art 300-seat theater as well as several settings for performing arts in the galleries and around the Museum grounds. Programs feature some of the most influential artists working today in performance, music, dance, and media arts.
In dedicating most of the first floor of its new building to education facilities, the MCA made a strong statement about its role as an educator. The museum’s commitment to engaging a broad and diverse audience is evident in the variety of exciting programs offered: adult classes and workshops, lectures, symposia, and informal talks by artists and curators, as well as imaginative children’s classes and family workshops. The MCA engages over 25,000 people per year in its educational programs that include lectures, panels, classes, workshops, tours, and symposia.
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