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.
The Vision Campaign is about great art and ideas—that connect with the community and propel the MCA as a leader in the cultural landscape.
The MCA is an artist-activated and audience-engaged contemporary art museum. We generate art, ideas, and conversation around the creative process. We are a cultural leader of local necessity and international distinction. —The MCA Vision Statement
The MCA Vision Campaign began in 2010–11 with a considerable amount of self-reflection and analysis: What kind of museum are we? Who do we want to become? What can we learn from similar arts organizations internationally? How do we serve the Chicago community and how can we do it better? What’s the future of the MCA and how do we get there?
We recognize that contemporary art is not for everyone and that it can be challenging. We strive to help our culturally curious audiences understand and interact with contemporary art and artists. Interpretive programming and publications often emphasize the creative process by showing finished works along with works in progress. The MCA frequently invites living artists to lead and help shape interpretive programming. These efforts to recontextualize postwar art take place within the museum and beyond our walls, with forays into current technology.
The goal of the campaign is to strengthen the museum’s commitment to the works of living artists as well as to engage diverse audiences with artist-led programs, multimedia exhibitions, and performances.
Significant gifts to the Vision Campaign support the museum's efforts to reach this goal: $10 million from the Kenneth C. Griffin Charitable Fund; $10 million from Helen and Sam Zell, on behalf of the Zell Family Foundation to create the Zell Fund for Artistic Excellence; and $10 million from Stefan Edlis and Gael Neeson, resulting in the naming of the Edlis Neeson Theater in their honor.
Former Board Chair King Harris emphasized the importance of balancing both sustainability and growth, recognizing that because of the Vision Campaign, “the museum today is on solid financial ground and can realize this ambitious vision.”
The Vision campaign supports programs, learning, innovation, and community outreach. Specific programs receiving Vision support include:
- MCA Plaza and second-floor atrium series, major exhibitions and performances, ascendant artist exhibitions, collection, artist commissions and residencies, live arts activations/performances.
- Lifelong learning programs, including expanded education programs, lectures, talks, workshops, and studios, interactive gatherings, and teen programs.
- Digital innovations, including multimedia applications, website, video, social media, and interactive content.
- Civic engagement, including community outreach and audience centered programs, events, and forums, public communications and partnerships.
Award-winning architectural firm Johnston Marklee was selected to reimagine the layout of the museum and create a master plan that includes a new restaurant and an area for audience engagement.
Social engagement space
We’re more than the art on our walls. We are currently working on a space that allows you to explore what inspired an artist to create the large work you just admired or to contemplate how technology impacts society while enjoying the Chicago skyline. Read books, watch videos, and gain a deeper understanding of the art that breathes life into the MCA.
We plan to reimagine our dining experience by opening a world-class restaurant that invites visitors to gather, converse, and enjoy a meal prepared by one of Chicago's most creative chefs.