Jump to content

The Dialogue: MCA Chicago’s annual conversation on museums, diversity, and inclusion


Profound changes in demographics, modes of cultural participation, and approaches to social interaction and community creation are making accessible, inclusive, and diverse cultural institutions more possible and more necessary than ever. What does an architecture of participation look like at a civically-minded, contemporary art museum?

Following an introduction by MCA Pritzker Director Madeleine Grynsztejn, museum advisor and writer Elaine Heumann Gurian and artist Mark Bradford address the topic of participation as it relates to museums, artists, and audiences. The event then turns to discussion as both audiences and speakers respond to the ideas presented.

Presented with the MCA’s Audience Development and Diversity Committee.

About the Speakers

Elaine Heumann Gurian is a consultant and advisor to museums and visitor centers that are beginning, building, or reinventing themselves. She specializes in advising government museums that are undergoing significant change. In 2004, she received the Distinguished Service to Museums Award, America's most important museum honor, from the American Association of Museums who also inducted Gurian as one of the 100 Centennial Honor Roll members. Over the past 35 years, Gurian has served as acting director, Cranbrook Institute of Science; deputy director, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; deputy director for public program planning, National Museum of the American Indian, Smithsonian Institution; deputy assistant secretary for museums, Smithsonian Institution; director of the Exhibit Center, Boston Children's Museum; and director of education, Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston. Her collected writings, Civilizing the Museum, was published in 2006, and her publications are used in many museum studies programs. In 2008, Gurian spent three months in Buenos Aires as a Fulbright Scholar creating a bilingual museum studies bibliography. She lectures and teaches nationally and internationally and has held various elected positions in the national and international museum communities.

Mark Bradford was awarded a prestigious MacArthur Foundation Fellowship in 2009\. Best known for his dazzling large-scale abstract collages, Bradford is engaged in an incisive, ongoing examination of the class, race, and gender-based economies that structure urban society in the US. His paintings and multimedia sculptures and installations will be featured at the MCA during summer 2011 in a major mid-career survey exhibition, Mark Bradford.