Set of Colored Martini Cocktails with Olives Vector Illustration

Neighborhood News: Modern Art Masters live at Streeterville’s Museum of Contemporary Art

Set of Colored Martini Cocktails with Olives Vector Illustration

Here’s a great trivia question for you: What building was the first in the United States to be “wrapped” by Christo and Jeanne-Claude?

If you guessed Streeterville’s Museum of Contemporary Art,220 E. Chicago Avenue, you’d be right! ‘Wrap In Wrap Out’ debuted in 1969. Today, it’s one of the world’s largest contemporary art venues.

Christo’s website recalls MCA’s former venue on Ontario Street.

“If any building ever needed wrapping, it was Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art, a banal, one-story edifice (with a below-ground gallery) having about as much architectural charm as an old shoe box. Built in the early 1900s, it had once been a bakery and, later, the headquarters of Playboy Enterprises.”


In 1964, Chicago already had The Art Institute of Chicago, but, according to Wikipedia sources, 30 critics, collectors and dealers gathered at the home of critic Doris Lane Butler to bring the long-discussed idea of a museum of contemporary art to complement the city’s Art Institute of Chicago. Mary Richardson said on MCA’s website that the institution’s founders originally conceived of the museum as a Kunsthalle, or a noncollecting ‘art hall’ that organized and hosted temporary exhibitions of new and experimental artists. 

Over the next decades, MCA expanded its vision to include permanent collections, theatrical performances, exhibitions and multi-media configurations.

The museum opened at its current location June 21–22, 1996, with a 24-hour event that drew more than 25,000 visitors, according to a Chicago Tribune story.

 Modern Classics on Display 

As notes, the MCA’s permanent collection contains more than 2,750 pieces of modern art from the 1920s onward. Notable works featured in the museum’s permanent collection include Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans II (1969), Jeff Koons’sRabbit(1986), Virgil Abloh’s “DOMINO EFFECT” (2018), Takashi Murakami’s Jellyfish Eyes (2002), and Cindy Sherman’s Untitled (1975). In a nod to its roots as a Kungshalle, not all works in the collection are displayed year-round. Instead, pieces are rotated in changing displays throughout the year.

They also support the local arts scene as well as globally renowned contemporary art and performance, including early looks at artists like Rashid Johnson, Catherine Opie and Olafur Eliasson.


Museum admission on Tuesdays are always free for Illinois residents. During the rest of the week, there’s reduced admission for students and seniors.

Family Days at the MCA

The MCA is a great place for families to connect with contemporary art. Every second Saturday of the month, October through May, families can enjoy free admission and interactive events that redefine the way that youth and families explore and create art together.

MCA’s hours are Tuesdays, 10am–9 pm, and Wednesday-Sunday, 10am–5pm. They are closed Mondays. For tickets and information, click here.

Alison Moran-Powers and Dean’s Team Chicago