Located one block east of the historic Water Tower, the MCA champions the provocative side of contemporary art and culture. Our innovative exhibitions, performances, and programs will inspire you.

Founded in 1967 as a Kunsthalle, or noncollecting art gallery, the MCA is now one of the world’s largest museums dedicated to art since 1945. Since our inception, it has been our mission to exhibit new and experimental work artists in all media, paired with ambitious education programs. In 1974, the MCA expanded our mission to include collecting and preserving contemporary art for future generations with the inauguration of a permanent collection that has grown to include more than 2,000 works. After 29 years in a storefront on Ontario Street, the museum moved to our current location in 1996, giving our collection, exhibitions, and programming room to evolve to meet the needs of 21st-century art and audiences.


As the president and director of the Art Institute of Chicago, I feel deeply honored and privileged to have the opportunity to contribute to the leadership and history of this remarkable institution—a place I have made my professional home for nearly 20 years. In that time, the museum has changed and grown exponentially. Physically our building and global collection have increased in size and scope, and philosophically we continually adapt to the world around us and find creative and relevant ways to engage our global audiences. This website, along with our blog and social media channels, is just one way that we extend our reach.

Amid all this change and expansion, the museum has stayed true to its founding mission of 1879: to collect, preserve, and interpret works of art of the highest quality from across the globe for the inspiration and education of our visitors. Today our collection comprises approximately 300,000 works of arts—ranging from ancient art through to work being created by today’s foremost artists—and our visitors number 1.5 million annually from across Chicagoland, the country, and the world. Located in the heart of Chicago, just a block from Lake Michigan and adjacent to Millennium Park and Maggie Daley Park, the Art Institute is composed of eight buildings and covers nearly one million square feet. Our eleven curatorial departments and over 500 employees not only care for our illustrious permanent collection but also present 30 special exhibitions and hundreds of gallery talks, lectures, performances, and events every year. Enhancing all this is our research library for art and architecture, one of the finest in the country, and our state-of-the-art conservation facilities that both safeguard our collection for future generations and continually uncover new and exciting revelations about it.

We, of course, hope that everyone can come experience all the Art Institute offers in person at some point—ideally again and again. But there are a host of ways to interact with the many riches of the museum right here on our website, whether you are seeking information on planning your visit or using our latest digital resources to research from thousands of miles away. Welcome to the Art Institute of Chicago.

James Rondeau
President and Eloise W. Martin Director