Growing Pains

1980s Chicago Move Ontario Street

Penny Pritzker describes the excitement of rethinking the museum's building before the move to Chicago Avenue.

The MCA, we were in an old bakery building but that seemed really cool. It was a repurposed building, and it wasn't very flexible for all the things that today you would want to be able to show. We didn't have ceiling heights to be able to show large sculpture, but it was a place—it didn't—that was the physical space, but emotionally it was a place that was welcoming and open to trying to engage with more and more people. And I remember when we decided—I went on the board in the mid- to late 1980s, and we decided we were going to build a new building. And that really was a consuming project for the entire MCA family, if you will, because one, we had to—We had never raised the kind of money that was needed to do that, but also, we really needed to up our game. We needed to become far more available to larger Chicago and figure out how to do that. And so that was an exciting time for the MCA, as it was sort of reinventing and reimagining itself as a major institution in the city as opposed to a startup, which I think that it had been for its first several decades.

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