Learning Resources

Explore learning resources created by and for the teachers, youth, families, and other members of our MCA Learning Community.

Tour Videos

Look closely at artworks and explore themes of MCA exhibitions with these videos.

TV for Aliens

Visit the MCA from wherever you are in this Tour Video Series dedicated to discovering more about the world, our communities, and ourselves through contemporary art.

TV for Water

Learning about contemporary art isn’t just a matter of historical facts and artist biographies. Contemporary art is special and important because it can help us see our present moment in new ways. Join the MCA’s Manager of School Programs, Jeremy Kreusch, to explore an exhibition called “Water After All.” Look at four different artworks that mirror for different aspects of water. Discover ways art can inspire us to engage with ourselves, one another, and the world we share.


Activities for family members of all ages

River Portraits

Installation view, Carolina Caycedo: From the Bottom of the River, MCA Chicago Dec 12, 2020–Sep 12, 2021

Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Caring Connections

Artworks from The Quarantine Times installed at the MCA as part of The Long Dream exhibition. Installation view, The Long Dream, MCA Chicago November 7, 2020–January 17, 2021

Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Just like the artists who formed the Quarantine Times to help other artists during the pandemic, you can use art to strengthen the bonds of care and support within your community.

Monuments for Small Things

Installation view, The Long Dream, MCA Chicago November 7, 2020–January 17, 2021

Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Create a 3D monument to something small and not usually celebrated.

Sanctuary Spaces

Installation view, The Long Dream, MCA Chicago November 7, 2020–January 17, 2021

Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago


Transforming Tools

Jim Dine, (American, b. 1935). Tools, 1970. Lithograph on paper; 39 ½ × 53 ¾ in. (100.3 × 139.1 cm). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Gift of American Art Foundation, 1980.58

Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Art For Windows

Wolfgang Tillmans, German, b. 1968 Window Caravaggio, 1997 Chromogenic development print Sheet: 82 ½ × 54 ½ in. (209.6 × 138.4 cm); framed: 86 5/8 × 58 ½ × 2 ½ in. (220 × 148.6 × 6.4 cm)

Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Joseph and Jory Shapiro Fund by exchange, 2006.13 Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

By Jeremy Kreusch and Grace Needlman

Animal Mashups

Two mossy stone figures with human legs and fish torsos sit leaning against each other on a mossy stone by the seashore. On the horizon the shape of a double-masted sailing vessel made out of water rises out of the sea and cuts into the blue, cloud-filled sky.

René Magritte, Belgian, 1898–1967
Les merveilles de la nature (The Wonders of Nature), 1953
Oil on canvas
Encased: 42 5/8 × 50 5/8 × 6 1/2 in. (108.3 × 128.6 × 16.5 cm)
Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Gift of Joseph and Jory Shapiro, 1982.48

Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago

By Jeremy Kreusch

Squiggly Window Art

Squiggly Window Art installation view. Photos by James Jankowiak.

By James Jankowiak

Paper Dolls

Lizz Ortiz, Paper Dolls. Image courtesy of artist.

Make paper dolls that represent your ever-changing identity. Join Lizz for a live paper doll-making demonstration and to show off your own paper dolls during Family Day on May 9.

Friendly Faces

H.C. Westermann, American, 1922–1981
Memorial to the Idea of Man If He Was an Idea, 1958
Pine, bottle caps, cast-tin toys, glass, metal, brass, ebony, and enamel
56 1/2 × 38 × 14 1/4 in. (143.5 × 96.5 × 36.2 cm)
Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Susan and Lewis Manilow Collection of Chicago Artists, 1993.34

Photo: Nathan Keay © MCA Chicago

If we weren’t already, we’re now well-acquainted with everything in the four walls of our home. While we’re staying safe, how can we continually find new joy and inspiration?

Recycled Balones

An informational illustration demonstrating how to make hand-made toy balls from recycled materials. Drawings by Angella Kilabo. Graphic design by Rosario A. Aybar..

Soccer (or futbol) is a worldwide sport, enjoyed by all types of people—rich and poor alike. In many cultures, people who can’t afford professional or store-bought balls (or balones) use whatever is around them to make their own. From Africa to Central and South America, people have been using old clothing, rags, and other recycled materials to handcraft toys for centuries. The links below show examples of recycled toy ball–making techniques from around the world. While all are slightly different, the concept of recycling, wrapping, tying, and building stronger communities is the common thread between them.


Handmade Memory

Squeeze playdough to make a hand impression.

by Anna Showers-Cruser

Teacher Institute


This resource reimagines gallery activities and exercises used in our Multiple Visit Program to help students practice speaking, listening, observing, and questioning skills at home.

Speaking and Listening at Home

The Frame, Your Body, Residue

A large and neat stack of white paper with a black border sits on a concrete floor.

Felix Gonzalez-Torres, "Untitled" (The End), 1990. Print on paper, endless copies; 22 in. (at ideal height) x 28 x 22 in. (55.9 x 71.1 x 55.9 cm) (original paper size). Collection Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, restricted gift of Carlos and Rosa de la Cruz; Bernice and Kenneth Newberger Fund, 1995.11. © The Felix Gonzalez-Torres Foundation, courtesy of Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York

Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Activities by Joelle Mercedes, supplementary text by Jeremy Kreusch

Proper Etiquette and Acceptable Behaviors

An artist guide converses with students in BMO Harris Bank Chicago Works: Sarah and Joseph Belknap (Oct 11, 2014–Febr 24, 2015) during a Teacher Institute student tour on October 31, 2015

Photo: Joshua Longbrake, © MCA Chicago

Ordinarily on field trips, students receive a tour where teaching artists facilitate discussion of the works on view. This year, young people in the SPACE program made a simple request. They wanted more free time to explore the museum on their own. Scholarship surrounding the topic of more open-ended exploration (for example, this College Board report and this MacArthur-funded study) suggests that by supporting their request, we'd also be creating conditions to foster more meaningful and generative learning. So we did.

In Touch

Selva Aparicio, Tejo (Hopscotch) (detail), 2018. Steel, felt, and Portland cement casts from human dead donors; 2 x 192 x 48 in. Courtesy of the artist.

Photo: Robert Chase Heishman.

by Selva Aparicio

Folding Paper Cranes

Two people sitting in chairs across from each other knit one long piece of fabric.

Performance view, Untitled (Pink Tube), MCA Chicago, Oct 15–Nov 19, 2013

Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Folding Paper Cranes Video