Index

Well into 2018—the Staff’s Best of 2017

The MCA’s new exterior. Photo © Callie Lipkin Photography, Inc.

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As we look back at 2017—and take down our 50th-anniversary signage—the MCA staff have had some time to reflect on the museum's golden year. While our best-of-press post showcased our publicized successes of the year, we wanted to share insider opinions on the museum's best-of moments. Below, a few staff members highlights are featured.

Personally inscribed plate from Michael Rakowitz’s Spoils.

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After we finished installing Backstroke of the West, Michael Rakowitz wrote me and my daughter a note on some of his plates.

—Liz Rudnick, Assistant Registrar for Exhibitions

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It all began with a "silly question" that Chicago Magazine asked Chief Curator Michael Darling in an interview: "Who wins in a fight? SUE, [the iconic Tyrannosaurus Rex at the Field Museum], or Felix [Maurizio Cattelan's 26-foot-tall skeleton of a house cat, inspired by SUE]." We decided to let the public weigh in via a Twitter poll. What followed was nearly as bad as the time SUE picked a Twitter fight with Merriam Webster.

The moral of the story: don't pick a fight with a T. rex.

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My Family Day project Making a Giant Friendship Bracelet (Dec 2017) invited visitors to weave into a huge net armature and also make their own bracelets or other ribbon-based adornments to take away and share with their friends.

—Claire Arctander, Artist Guide

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Watching visitors in the Commons lounge chairs watching the snow fall on our garden has been a highlight of that newly completed space.

Phill Cabeen, Curatorial Assistant for Performance

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My favorite moment was when someone asked me why a man was “hollering” in the galleries (referencing the Name Announcer).

—Marian Hillebrand, Development Project Assistant

Tracy and Charlotte in front of Jackie Saccoccio, Portrait (Stubborn), 2013.

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In 2017 I had so many amazing moments at the MCA, here are some of my favorites throughout the year:

  • The best part of 2017 has been getting to interact with children visiting the museum; often these children had never been to a museum before. I also had several children on my tours who did not speak English, only Spanish. As a fluent Spanish speaker, I understood that it can be tough when you are younger and feeling like there is so much to catch up to do in school. These students were often shy and quiet, but through games involving art and movement I tried to get them involved as much as I could and often this created a better atmosphere for them. I recall a little girl in particular, who only spoke Spanish. She was paying attention the whole time and during our last activity, when I had asked the group to talk about their favorite piece they had seen that day (I was planning on acting as a translator when her turn came), she got up in front of the whole group and very confidently gave an entire mini-speech in Spanish of her favorite piece and why she had chosen it. She didn't let language be a barrier at all! During another school tour, we posed in front of a Tomas Ruff piece and tried to re-create the facial expression of the girl in the photo.
  • Another memorable moment was when I saw that my favorite favorite Mexican rock band (Molotov) was going to be playing at the House of Blues. I reached out via Instagram and invited the band to the MCA. They are an icon in Mexico, with over 25 years in rock music, touring all over the world. I thought it was not even an option. It was such a nice surprise when the drummer, Randy Ebright, agreed to join me for a tour. Randy arrived with his parents! and we had a lovely time touring You Are Here. I was so shocked when Randy told me he would put me in the guest list for their show and I got to attend and meet the rest of the band!
  • I'm not sure if you're familiar with Tavi Gevinson, the founder of Rookie Magazine (she's from Chicago and is now a big celebrity, actress, author, etc.). I met her dad on a flight from Chicago to LA and invited him to the MCA for a tour during Murakami. He brought his daughter Miriam and we had such a great time touring Murakami that they said they would come back and they did! I saw them again wandering the museum on a busy Tuesday.
  • I've worked with different nonprofits serving low-income senior citizens, among them The Breakers and H.O.M.E., both located in Edgewater. I was able to bring one of the residents I used to work with from The Breakers to the MCA for a tour. Her name is Charlotte and we had such a fun time. It was really nice to exchange perspectives and ideas as we toured the exhibitions.
  • I also got to lead a teacher tour in 2017. This tour was more of a "meta" tour and I got to share some tips and strategies I've used throughout the year with students.

—Tracy Montes, Artist Guide

MCA Talk: Vince Staples, MCA Chicago, Oct 13, 2017. Photo: Jeremy Lawson, © MCA Chicago.

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Usually music videos or lyrics start a rap beef, so we may hold the record for only rap beef started at a museum. During our ongoing conversation series that is copresented with Pitchfork, Vince Staples took a (very mild) shot at Eminem's politically charged freestyle, which he dropped at the BET Hip Hop Awards. Never underestimate the power of Twitter to blow things out of proportion. The next day, forums and fans were blowing up about it. Vince Staples later said he was joking in since-deleted Twitter posts.

Abraham Ritchie, Social Media Manager

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