How do you create a truly public museum?

2010s Chicago Community Renovation Staff

The Commons is a platform for fostering dialogue, curiosity, and experimentation within the civic and public contexts of the city.

How do you create a truly public museum? What I mean by that is, how do you create a museum that’s reflective of the city in which it’s in? The Commons, in our case, is not just a gesture, but it’s a way of opening the museum to the dialogues, the conversations, and the creative practices of the city, and to artists who are interested in perhaps coming in and connecting to our city. So it’s both a reflection of what’s burgeoning in this place that we live, but also [of] artists who are interested in Chicago.

The Commons is that place of exchange and really about the civic-ness.  So we’re looking at working with artists who work here. We’re thinking about community groups and partnerships that we can build—and thinking about the site as a platform and a reflection of all that is vibrant and all that is challenging about our city, and how do we open that space up to be a place of questioning and curiosity and experimentation. You know, unlike other museums, we are kind of willing to ask hard questions, which is again going back to the history of the MCA. We are very open to experimentation and risk, and I think the Commons is a reflection of that. It's a reflection of a kind of fast and furious and mindful and considered way in which we can have ongoing conversations, ongoing dialogues with the people who live and work and create in the city.

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