Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

220 E Chicago Avenue, Chicago
Illinois, United States
Phone: +1 312-280-2660
closed on: Mondays, New Year's Day, Thanksgiving, and Christmas
Museum Type: Art

The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, also known as MCA, is a renowned institution, located on Chicago’s Magnificent Mile, which mission is to be an “artist-activated and audience-engaged contemporary art museum”.

The museum was founded in 1964 as a multi-disciplinary non-collecting art institution aimed to present the work of emerging and experimental artists through temporary exhibitions, lectures, debates, and live performances.

Opened to the public in 1967, in the following decades the museum played a crucial role in promoting the seminal work by artists and art groups such as John Cale, Fluxus, Christo, John Baldessari, Sol LeWitt, Bruce Nauman, Robert Smithson, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, Andy Warhol, Frida Khalo, Philip Glass, Chris Burden, Gordon Matta-Clark,  Vito Acconci, Robert Mapplethorpe, Lorna Simpson, Laurie Anderson, and Olafur Eliasson, among many others.


Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, bird’s eye view; photo Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Since 1974, the museum has established a permanent collection, which currently encompasses over 2,500 pieces dating from the 1920s to the present, including works by many of the most renowned American, European, and Asian contemporary artists; artworks from the MCA’s collection are usually presented through rotating exhibitions.


An exhibition room at the MCA, photo Gosia Malochleb (CC BY-NC 2.0).

The current home of the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago was completed in 1996 after a design by German architect Josef Paul Kleihues. Inspired by both the classicist architecture by Karl Friedrich Schinkel, especially by his Altes Museum in Berlin, and by those of Chicago’s architects such as Louis Sullivan and Daniel Burnham, the building is a geometric construction, based on a square grid, clad in aluminum and limestone.


Exterior rear view of the museum; photo © MCA Chicago


The main staircase, photo Steven Hall, © Hedrich Blessing

Along with 45,000 square feet of exhibition galleries, the building of the MCA accommodates a 300-seat auditorium (the Edlis Neeson Theater), a meeting center, the 15,000 square-foot Mayer Education Center, an art library, a cafe, a store, and a sculpture garden.

The diverse program of activities of the MCA includes temporary exhibitions of contemporary art; live performances of art, music, dance, and theater; screenings; talks; workshops; and educational activities for schools, teens, adults, and families.

Cover image: MCA Building exterior at night; photo Peter McCullough, © MCA Chicago 

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