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Museum of Contemporary Art

220 East Chicago Avenue
Chicago, IL

Phone: 312-280-2660

Statement of Purpose

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.


View of the MCA's building and site,

with the Historic Water Tower in foreground and Lake Michigan in background. Photography by Steve Hall, (C) Hedrich Blessing.

Chicago's newest major museum 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 in a new building near the historic Water Tower in the heart of the Magnificent Mile, the MCA boasts a gift store, bookstore, restaurant, 300-seat theater, and a terraced sculpture garden with a great view of Lake Michigan.

Front faced of the MCA's new building

as seen from a neighborhood park. Photography by Steve Hall, (C) Hedrich Blessing.


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 seven 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 MCA opened July 2, 1996. With almost 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.

An other view of the MCA's front facade.

Photo: Steve Hall. (c) Hedrich Blessing.

Highlights & Collections

The MCA's permanent collection provides an historical context for examining continuing developments in contemporary art.

MCA's barrel-vaulted,

naturally lit permanent collection galleries. Photo: Steve Hall. (C) Hedrich Blessing.

The collection includes some 5,600 objects and features notable strengths in art made in Chicago, minimalism, postminimalism, conceptualism, surrealism, and artists' books. Among the artists whom the MCA has collected in depth are Alexander Calder, Donald Judd, Sol LeWitt, Bruce Nauman, and Robert Smithson. The collection also includes key works by Francis Bacon, Ann Hamilton, Alfredo Jaar, Jasper Johns, Jeff Koons, René Magritte, Ed Paschke, Richard Serra, Cindy Sherman, Lorna Simpson, and Andy Warhol.

Rene Magritte: "Les merveilles de la Nature"

The Wonders of nature. 1953. Oil on canvas. Gift of Joseph and Jory Shapiro.
(C) Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

Alexander Calder: Performing Seal, 1950.

Painted sheet metal and steel wire. The Leonard and Ruth Horwich Family Loan.

Exhibits & Special Events

Bruce Nauman: Self-Portrait as a Fountain, 1966-67.

Color photograph. Collection, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Gerald S. Elliot Collection. Photo: Michael Tropea. (C)MCA.


Calendar of events, is available on the MCA website at


The MCA's galleries are open


The MCA is closed Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and New Year's Day

Marilo Mori: Birth of a Star, 1995.

Duratran, acrylic, light box, and audio CD. Gift of the Peter Norton Family Foundation.

Admission & Directions:

The Museum of Contemporary Art is located at 220 E. Chicago Avenue, one block east of Michigan Avenue.

Key Personnel:

Robert Fitzpatrick, Director

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All information is subject to change - This document is non contractual.