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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 lends a feeling of freshness but also makes it impossible to predict what will be on display at any given time. Special exhibits are devoted mostly to original shows you can't see anywhere else.
The MCA building looks like a home for contemporary art—designed by Berlin architect Josef Paul Kleihues, it's made of square metal plates with round bolts in each corner.
The 7,000-piece collection, still growing, includes work by Alexander Calder, Jeff Koons, Bruce Nauman, Sol LeWitt, Kerry James Marshall, Cindy Sherman, and many others. Exhibitions that draw from this collection make up about a quarter of the museum; the rest is devoted to special exhibits and artist projects.
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, are offered daily. Tours that provide a balanced sweep of the entire museum are also available, as are ones geared specifically to families with young children.
The MCA Store carries well-designed jewelry and quirky items for the home, from porcelain eggshells that sprout flowers to goggles aimed at onion choppers.
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.
Every Tuesday evening from October to May, visitors can participate in artist-led programs that include film screenings, live performances, and talks.
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).