Moments of Truth

Building Chicago Renovation

One of the museum’s longtime Trustees, Gerhard Bette, identifies key moments in the MCA’s history.

All institutions go through different moments of truth, and this museum clearly had its fair share of moments of truth. In my recollection obviously the big one was moving from a boxy space kind of on the sidelines to the boxy space in the middle of Michigan Avenue. So that was one. That took some time to get going and that took a few leadership transitions to make that happen.

There was the moment of truth of the bridge, where we basically faced going into the financial abyss, but we resurrected ourselves based on the generosity of some board members. There was a moment of truth of the new vision, which is: How do you translate a very high-level vision into something that is meaningful to a much, much broader audience? So that was a big moment of truth.

The next moment of truth is kind of the expansion of the museum with the renovations and creating new spaces within the same envelope. That I think—The interesting question is: What is our next moment of truth? A lot of those have been driven by leadership, leadership changes, leadership willingness to grab an idea and push very hard with it, which is why we have a new vision. That was clearly Madeleine stepping up after she was appointed and saying, "I want to articulate this very differently." So I think the next one will probably have to do with technology.

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