Free event MCA Chicago.
Where: Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E. Chicago Avenue
The Museum of Contemporary Art is always free on Tuesdays for Illinois residents with ID.
Every Tuesday (except holidays), on Illinois Resident free day the museum offers special talks and events.
Check the calendar here.
Segunda Semana Monthly on the 2nd Tuesday–
About the Museum
We aim 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.
We boldly interweave exhibitions, performances, collections, and educational programs to excite and challenge our visitors. We also strive to engage a diverse audience, create a sense of community, and provide a place for contemplation, stimulation, and discussion about contemporary art and culture.
In 1964, a group of collectors, art dealers, artists, art critics, and architects united under the belief that the city of Chicago deserved a great contemporary art museum that was dedicated to exploring the new. The institution’s founders originally conceived of the museum as a Kunsthalle, or a noncollecting “art hall” that organized and hosted temporary exhibitions of new and experimental artists.
Since opening in 1967, in a small building at 237 East Ontario Street the museum has featured the work of emerging artists, many of whom would go on to influential careers. The founders and staff sought to nurture experimentation and “collaboration among practitioners of today’s many-faceted art expressions” and to amplify the innovative exhibitions with “lectures, symposia, roundtable discussions, films and musical performances.” From day one the museum took an interdisciplinary approach.
As the museum became more established, programs also brought a social awareness and engagement to the breadth of experimental activities. In 1969, the MCA became the first building wrapped by Christo in the United States.
During the 1970s the the museum hosted solo exhibitions of Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol, kicking off a decade during which the MCA solidified its unique blend of exhibitions and programming and transitioned from a Kunsthalle (a non-collecting “art hall”) to a collecting museum.
The MCA further diversified its eclectic programming with a variety of film series, lectures, and performances. The Board formally established the permanent collection in 1974. This spurred the need for a larger space that could display the newest art as well as the burgeoning collection. The MCA marked its 10th anniversary by purchasing an adjacent three-story townhouse to facilitate an expansion.
By the 1980s and early 1990s, MCA became further established as an important platform for experimental contemporary art. The museum hosted Jeff Koons’s first solo museum show.
Due to continued growth in 1990 the museum signed a 99-year lease on the site of the Illinois National Guard’s Chicago Avenue Armory and in 1992 staged a site-specific exhibition in the vacant building before its demolition. In 1996, a building designed by Berlin architect Josef Paul Kleihues opened.
In the new millennium, the museum continues to support the local arts scene while also presenting globally renowned contemporary art and performance.
In 2011, MCA re-imagined and restructured the museum’s approach to exhibitions, dedicating specific gallery spaces to thematic permanent collection shows, ascendant artist solo shows, and new exhibition series.