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A Quick Guide to Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

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What is Contemporary Art?

museum of contemporary art Chicago
By d26b73/ Flickr . Copyright 2021.


Contemporary art is popularly known as “the art of today”. It usually refers to art produced from the late 20th and the early 21st centuries.

Contemporary art belongs to the present. It is unique and fascinating at the same time, and so the masses greatly admire it. The Museum of Contemporary Art is specially built and devoted to the art of the present times.

There are different contemporary art forms, namely painting, photography, theatre, video art, sculpture, dance, music, etc.

Why is Contemporary Art so Popular?

Contemporary art is quite popular for many reasons. The artists use current affairs, issues, and trends around them as the main subject. With this, they create innovative and distinct pieces using their amazing artistic skills.

Museum of contemporary art
By Hom Nguyen / Flickr. Copyright 2021.

It can be any form of art that successfully draws attention to the things of great entertainment or intellectual value. Art enthusiasts can learn, explore, research, and interact with like-minded people about contemporary art.

Some popular museums of contemporary art in the world are:

  1. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, LA.
  2. Whitney Museum of American Art, New York.
  3. Guggenheim museum Bilbao, Bilbao, Spain.
  4. Museum of contemporary art, Houston.
  5. Museum of contemporary art, Chicago.   
  6. Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

 Contemporary art gained a lot of fame during the post-World War II eras. In 1910, artist Rogic Fry started the Contemporary Art Society in London. Pop art, conceptualism, minimalism are some of the types of contemporary art.

Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

The famous Contemporary Art Museum, Chicago, is located one block east of the Water Tower Place in Cook County, Illinois, United States. 

Josef Paul Kleihues is the architect who did an amazing job of designing and developing the MCA building.

Museum of contemporary art
By Mike Steele / Flickr. Copyright 2021.

MCA Chicago was established in 1967, and it is one of the world’s largest and most popular contemporary art venues. MCA has been displaying great artworks for nearly 50 years now.

After a conference of art enthusiasts in 1964, it was agreed that Chicago needed a modern art museum. These folks felt deeply about this and worked tirelessly to make it a reality.

In the initial years, the museum was used for temporary exhibitions based on the German kunsthalle model.

The museum’s collection has many post-World War II visual art exhibits along with many other renowned and precious objects.

Many art exhibitions are held in this museum throughout the year, highlighting that it is also an artist-run gallery that holds exhibitions. It features amazing contemporary works from local and international artists.

Museum of contemporary art
By Mike Steele / Flickr. Copyright 2021.

The exhibits are changed frequently and are displayed in rotations. MCA supports and appreciates new art forms and new artists. Among the remarkable debut exhibitions held at the museum are Frida Kahlo‘s first US exhibition and the first solo museum exhibition of Jeff Koons.

When Koons organized another exhibition flaunting some of his best art pieces, it broke all existing records.

Quick fact: Takashi Murakami holds the record for the most attended exhibition for his outstanding art exhibition organized in 2017.

MCA’s collections have more than 3000 books on art and about 2700 objects. In addition, the collection includes amazing works from 1945 to the present.

The F.R.I.E.N.D.S Experience is an event venue in Chicago with wonderful set recreations from the famous American sitcom Friends. You can see the iconic Monica Geller kitchen, Joey and Chandler’s apartment, and the most famous hangout spot on Friends, the ‘Central Perk’. 

Famous Contemporary Artists You Should Know

Contemporary artists are blessed with the unique skill of making their art pieces look as young and raw as possible.

Following are the names of a few famous contemporary artists who have won many hearts and praises for their amazing artworks:

1. Takashi Murakami

2. Cecily Brown

3. Jean- Michel Basquiat

4. Jeff Koons 

5. Yayoi Kusama

6. Anselm Kiefer


Some of the prominent exhibitions which were held at MCA are- 

  • The long dream
  • Alien Vs. citizen
  • Hide and Seek
  • The location of lines
  • Fragments of a crucifixion

MCA hosted a traveling exhibition, The Perfect Moment, organized by the Institute of contemporary art Philadelphia.

MCA recently opened a curated exhibition by Duro Olowu called “Duro Olowu: seeing Chicago,” with more than 350 artworks.

The exhibitions at MCA feature artworks on contemporary art by artists of international, national, local renown.

Museum of contemporary art
By Mike Steele / Flickr. Copyright 2021.

By creating a separate website specially dedicated to the exhibitions, the MCA made a platform for preserving and publishing art pieces from its 50-year history. 

MCA Stage

MCA Stage was founded in 1996 with MCA’s new four-story building. In its 15 year history, it has successfully organized many local, international, and national events.

Theatre, music, dance and short films are the artforms that the MCA stage has featured.

‘Artists Up close’ is a type of after-show talk session which the MCA holds for engaging its audience by involving them in discussions and workshops.

It features leading performers and artists from all over the world. They perform their respective work in MCA’s 300 seat theatre. 

In 2008 the MCA celebrated its 40th anniversary. The museum included artworks from Carlos Amorales, Adam Pendleton and Tony Oursler.

Why Should You Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago?

Museum of contemporary art, Chicago has a lot to offer to its visitors. The diversity in the artworks will definitely impress you.

The MCA brings culture and art together; it sparks creativity among the budding artists and is inspirational.

There are amusing contemporary artworks that can make you laugh and lift your mood. On the other hand, there are also serious artworks that will make you ponder on the issues the artist has tried to highlight through their work.

The ability to appreciate art stems from the ability to understand the different perspectives that drives art. It is believed that there are three perspectives for any art form – the insider perspective, the aesthetic perspective, and the opposing perspective. Possessing knowledge about these perspectives can give one significant exposure to understand a certain artwork.

MCA has multiple online programs for art enthusiasts. Some of them are free. But, it is closed on Mondays.

Ticket fares vary based on your age. Adults have to pay the full ticket cost. Senior citizens are given a concession on the ticket prices. Free entry is provided for small children, youngsters till 18 years of age, MCA staff, and students of Columbia College Chicago.

MCA is a non-profit organization, and its programs and exhibitions are funded privately. It functions as a tax-exempt museum.

Other than the common art form of paintings, you can also witness 3D models, documentaries, narrative shorts, and many others. The visit surely will give you a golden chance to experience and appreciate something new, aesthetic, and unique.

Whichever artform sits close to your heart,  you’ll surely find something that you connect with at Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art.

If you wish to know more about Chicago, check out this article on the best suburbs of Chicago.






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