The MCA's Education Department provides the interpretive services and in-depth programs that curious
people need to better understand and explore the art of our time. We partner with a myriad of
generous peopleartists, curators, teachers, volunteers, docents, trustees, and donorsto foster
both the holistic study and focused inquiry of contemporary art and artists. In addition to tours
and in-gallery information, we offer talks by artists and curators, lectures, symposia, classes,
workshops, Creation Labs, teacher resources and programs, school and community partnerships, and
more, serving tens of thousands of people each year.
School tours are one of the key ways we introduce the next generation of museum visitors
to contemporary art. Consistent with past years, more than 11,000 students attended
in fiscal year 2005, and 76 percent of our audience came from Chicago Public Schools.
We maintain a ten-to-one ratio between students and guides, fostering shared discussion
and exploration of art and empowering students to build skills in looking at and
interpreting works of art.
Training is another component of our programs, and teachers are influential advocates for
contemporary art in the community. Though we reduced our teacher programs by half this year
due to budgetary restraints, teachers from all disciplines participated in workshops.
Two successful teacher workshops, An Investigation of Artists' Responses to the Changing
World and Universal Experience: An Investigation of the Culture of Travel, were offered to
all teachers, while additional workshops were offered to teachers of our partner schools
and the State of the Art program. With the MCA Teacher Resource Book out of print, we
have focused on internet resources through our website, with new pre-visit preparation
guides posted for each exhibition. The members of our Teacher Advisory Committee
continued to offer valuable insights into our programs and exhibitions. In May and
June of 2005 their students' work, which demonstrated the use of contemporary art
curriculum in the classroom, was featured in the Robert B. and Beatrice C. Mayer
Thanks to the generosity of the MCA's donors who have graciously endowed our lecture programs,
we offered free exhibition-related and topical lectures on art, architecture, and design. Highlights
included lectures by Carol Becker, Maurice Blanks of Blu Dot, Toshiko Mori, Martha Schwartz,
Fiona Tan, and Mark C. Taylor.
Classes and workshops included an excursion class entitled A Road Less Traveled, Globe-Trotting: Travel
Tourism and Globalism in Art since 1970, Cities as Cultural Meccas, and A Sense of Place: Landscape Painting.
These programs provide in-depth investigations of contemporary art in seminar-like learning environments.
This year was the first year of extensive programms specifically for families. In September, we launched
the MCA's new family website (www.mcachicago.org/family). Two new marketing pieces specifically for families
were developed and sent out to advertise free fall and winter/spring programs. We offered
four free Family Days, one in partnership with Children's Humanity Festival and another with
Lookingglass Theatre Company. Four Artists and Their Kids exhibitions and talks were held as well,
featuring artists such as Adam and Tyler Brooks; Tony and Gaby Fitzpatrick; and Dawoud Bey,
Candida Alvarez, and Ramon Alvarez-Smikle. Video interviews are now included on the MCA website.
In May, our director Bob Fitzpatrick and artist Tony Fitzpatrick hosted a delicious pancake breakfast for families.
In addition to bringing the audience to the art, we provide opportunities for direct contact with
living artists not only to help fulfill the MCA's mission but also to enrich the viewer's understanding
of our exhibitions. Creation Labs, a free series of artist-led tour and studio programs, use the
exhibitions as a catalyst for creative projects. This year more than 2,700 students learned the basics
of screen-printing while exploring identity as they created self-portraits and large-scale collaborative works.
We also work with two select high schools for three years and provide artists-in-residence twice per year
for ten-week sessions. Artists and students develop projects that serve the school's needs while building
their knowledge and experience with contemporary art. Active partner schools John Hope High School
(in its second year) and Taft High School (in its first year) enjoyed successful residencies that included
photography, ceramics, and painting.
During the summer, the MCA located two kiosks, cleverly configured from dumpsters, in Humboldt Park.
Throughout the summer the MCA hosted a series of programs for the public out of the kiosks. Both the
locations and the functionsone a cultural kiosk and the other a community health kioskwere determined
by community consultation at the park. The cultural kiosk hosted a range of visual art, poetry and music
performances, exhibitions, and workshops throughout the summer, hiring and featuring local talent from
within the community. Programs were geared to adults, children, and families. The MCA extended its
relationship with Humboldt Park's Center Infantile, offering their associated families free transportation
and lunch at our four free Family Days throughout the year.
MCA Education staff members continued to participate in community advocacy for the arts, including the
Chicago Community Trust's Task Force on Arts Education. The MCA hosted a thought-provoking Saturday
Seminar for principals and teachers involved in the program, using Chinese photography and video as a
catalyst for creative projects about identity.
Two key accomplishments brought us particular gratification this year. The Women's Board has made a multi-year
commitment to finding new funding for family and educational programming. This initiative, which fosters the
next generation of MCA audiences, harkens back to early efforts dedicated to youth that are the historical
foundation of the MCA Women's Board.
The Polk Bros. Foundation, which generously supported MCA Education Programs in the Chicago Contemporary Campaign
with a one-million-dollar endowment, has agreed to allow us to shift the purpose of the endowment
from "educational programs for children, families, and teachers" to endow a staff position, now known
as the Polk Bros. Associate Director of School Programs. This significant act of support clearly demonstrates
the esteem with which the Education Department is held in Chicago. As of 2005, the Education Department has
two endowed senior positions: Beatrice Cummings Mayer Director of Education and now the Polk Bros.
Associate Director of School Programs. This commitment to the professional stewardship of contemporary
art education ensures our ongoing ability to connect diverse audiences of all ages with the range of ideas
and sensibilities expressed through the art of our time.
The art of our time, like the times themselves, can be challenging indeed. Strong points of view and
unanswered questions come to the fore, requiring a spirited and diverse approach to educating and
learning alike. We look forward to another year of collaborating with dedicated, talented colleagues
across the arts and education communities, sharing our passion for delving into contemporary art to
experience its richest rewards.