Ready to be challenged, surprised, inspired and delighted? Then you’re ready to go to the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA). Established in 1967, Chicago’s MCA is one of the world’s largest venues of contemporary art. Run in the gallery-style, the museum holds thousands of Post WWII pieces of visual art in its collection, while also exhibiting temporary loan exhibitions as well.
The museum’s permanent collection boasts artwork from late surrealism, pop art and minimalism (1940s-1970s); postmodernism (1980s); and more contemporary works as well. Notably, the MCA has held several debut exhibitions including Frida Kahlo’s first U.S. exhibit, Jeff Koons’ first solo museum exhibit, and Takashi Murakami’s exhibit with record-breaking attendance. Beyond paintings and sculptures, other mediums featured by the museum include theater, music, dance, and multidisciplinary arts.
Not to Miss at the Museum of Contemporary Art
Because the museum began as a non-collecting entity (kunsthalle), works from the permanent collection are not always on display. Instead, permanent collection pieces are displayed in rotating exhibitions, which means you won’t see the same thing every time you go.
As a benefit to visitors who want to do their homework ahead of time, every piece of art in the permanent collection is logged in an online database. This means that guests can find out ahead of time which works are currently on view and which ones might have to wait until later.
Museum of Contemporary Art Amenities
Some of the unique conveniences and offerings the MCA has to offer include:
Marisol Restaurant and Bar
The museum restaurant, Marisol, is named after Venezuelan-American Artist who was a friend of Andy Warhol and star of the New York art scene in the 1960s and 70s. Menu offerings are inspired by her favorite dishes.
Featuring innovative flavors from Jason Hammel, a reputable Chicago chef, Marisol is surrounded by an immersive art environment by British Artist, Christ Ofili. Guests and enjoy table service with a full bar and private dining space, or may enjoy a cup of coffee or light snacks at the counter or to take away.
Reservations are accepted for seating in the dining room.
Unique and interesting pieces of wearable art, books, dining ware, toys and pieces for the home are all available in the museum shop, inspired by artwork. On days when the museum is open until 5pm, the museum store typically stays open until 6pm for additional shopping.
The Museum of Contemporary Art believes that art should be accessible to every person. While they use admission fees to support their exhibits and programs, they won’t turn anyone away at the door. The MCA has a pay-what-you-can policy for those who cannot afford the full fees.
Accommodations for those with disabilities may include:
- Visitors with disabilities, and their caretakers, will receive discounted or free access to the museum.
- Discounted rates may apply for accessible parking—ask at visitor services.
- Color-blindness correcting classes are available at visitor services.
- MCA provides sign language interpretation, open captioning, and assistive listening devices for preplanned events. Call ahead prior to visiting.
- The museum meets ADA accessibility standards, as well as providing other innovative services.
Museum of Contemporary Art Nearby Attractions
If you find yourself with extra time, check out these other places of interest within a five minute walk:
- 360 Chicago—this observatory on the 94th floor of the John Hancock Building has a 1000 ft. high lookout deck
- Chicago Sports Museum
- Historic Water Tower with Chicago-focused art gallery inside
- Ditka’s Restaurant—upscale fare with iconic football memorabilia
Getting to the Museum of Contemporary Art
220 East Chicago Avenue , Chicago IL 60611
Head into the museum by Lake Short Drive (you may want to avoid morning rush hour), Eisenhower Expressway (I-290), or Kennedy Expressway (I-90/94). The museum operates a parking garage next to the museum on Chicago Avenue, just west of Fairbanks Court. Parking discounts may apply on weekdays with validation.
MCA is just four blocks east of the Chicago Avenue stop on the CTA Red Line. Also, the #3 King Drive, #10 MSI, #66 Chicago Ave, and several Michigan Ave buses will get you there easily.
If you feel up to some exercise and the weather is good, access bike racks inside the MCA garage on Chicago Avenue. Or grab a Divvy bike share and dock it on the southwest side of the MCA.
When to Go to the Museum of Contemporary Art
Tues & Fri 10am-9pm; Wed, Thurs, Sat, Sun 10am-5pm; Closed Mondays except for certain holidays including Martin Luther King Jr. Day, President’s Day, and Memorial Day.
Tues & Fri 10am-9pm; Mon, Wed, Thurs, Sat, Sun 10am-6pm. Closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day.
Museum of Contemporary Art Insider Tips
Wondering if you qualify for a discounted admission price? Consider these options:
- Illinois residents should as before purchasing tickets as they may receive discounted or free admission on certain days of the week.
- Ask about discounts and free admission related to those serving with schools, military, police and fire department as well as veterans.
- Those with LINK (EBT) cards may receive a significantly reduced admission price.
- Visitors ages 18 and under should inquire about reduced or free admission
- If you are planning on visiting more than 1 tourist attraction during your visit to Chicago, check out the Go Chicago Card and Explorer Pass, both include the MCA.