The Future of Art

Artists Chicago Exhibitions

Kerry James Marshall ruminates on the dynamics of adding a contemporary art museum to a city.

When you introduce a new museum into a city that already has a really great world-class museum, you have two impulses. One is, you could think of it as competition between those two museums, but because the MCA and the Art Institute do such different things, or did such different things at the time, it really wasn’t about a competition between the two, but it really did sort of open up a way in which the museums could expand or the city could expand and start to develop a relationship to the ongoing development of and the future of art as opposed to being a repository for great things that had already been made.

So the dynamics of the MCA energized the city in a way that only a museum of contemporary art could. So it was an excitement in that regard because you got to see a lot of artwork that was being made in the moment. You got to see artists who were just becoming people that would become historically important later on. So you got to experience that while it was happening. One of the roles of what a contemporary art museum was supposed to do is to be on the leading edge, to be in the moment, to always be looking ahead at the way things are developing, while at the same time establishing the paradigm for making this history relevant.

Installation view, Performance Anxiety, MCA Chicago, Apr 17–Jul 6, 1997. Work shown: Renee Green, Partially Buried. Photo: Joe Ziolkowski, © MCA Chicago.

Installation view, Performance Anxiety, MCA Chicago, Apr 17–Jul 6, 1997. Work shown: Renee Green, Partially Buried. Photo: Joe Ziolkowski, © MCA Chicago.

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Video still, Behind the Scenes at an Art Museum. © MCA Chicago.

Behind the Scenes

MCA staff members are interviewed in 1997 about their work. Interviews include Torri Johnson, security officer; Margaret Farr, assistant director of education; Pablo Helguera, coordinator of public programs; Dominic Molon,. . . more
1990s Community Education Staff