A group of art patrons who felt the great Art Institute was unresponsive to modern work founded the MCA in 1967, and it has remained a renegade art museum ever since. It doesn't have any permanent exhibits; this gives it a feeling of freshness, but it also makes it impossible to predict what will be on display at any time. Special exhibits are devoted mostly to original shows you can't see anywhere else.
The MCA building looks like a home for
modern art —it's made of square metal plates with round bolts in each corner. These dramatic quarters were designed by Berlin architect Josef Paul Kleihues.
The 7,000-piece collection, still growing, includes work by René Magritte, Alexander Calder, Bruce Nauman, Sol LeWitt, Franz Kline, and June Leaf. This makes up about half the museum; the other half is dedicated to temporary exhibitions.
The museum showcases work in all mediums, including paintings, sculpture, works on paper, photography, video, film, and installations.
Guided "Exhibition Focus" tours, dedicated to short-run exhibits, happen daily. Highlights Tours, which provide a balanced sweep of the entire museum, are offered on weekends.
The MCA Store carries well-designed jewelry and quirky items for the home, from a porcelain eggshell from which a flower sprouts to goggles to be worn while chopping onions.
Run by Wolfgang Puck, Puck's Café at the MCA has a tasty menu that makes it a good spot for lunch.
Try to catch one of the cutting-edge music and theater performances; one year, for example, the entire front of the museum was turned into a puppet theater.
In summer come for Tuesdays on the Terrace and be serenaded by local jazz bands. There's a cash bar evenings from 5:30 to 8 and a full menu at the café.
On the first Friday evening of every month the museum hosts a party ($18) with live music and hors d'oeuvres from 6 to 10.
A farmers' market sets up shop on Tuesday from mid-June through October. Pick up fresh snacks and enjoy a picnic in the museum's backyard sculpture garden (admission free).