A Little Time and a Keyboard: Family Visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art

Family Visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

On our recent trip to Chicago, we ventured into the Museum of Contemporary Art for the first time. None of us know too much about contemporary art, so our curiosities were definitely piqued. We wondered if the art would speak to us and I am happy to say that some of the art truly did!

The Museum of Contemporary Art is conveniently located near Water Tower Place and the John Hancock Building, so in a location where you can enjoy some of Chicago's other attractions quite easily. It is set back a block from Michigan Ave and is in a noticeably quieter area.

One of my favorite pieces constructed using colored shoe laces!
The museum creates an experience that is quite different than what is found at the Art Institute of Chicago. Exhibits seem to be a bit more spaced out giving an airy feel. Overall, the museum brought forth a multidimensional way to experience the arts incorporating not only the visual but also sound and even in some ways touch. Our favorite exhibit by far allowed us to actually walk into exhibits. Of course, adults get a kick out of this but the experience particularly resonates with children. The exhibit is entitled S, M, L, XL and allows visitors to have a new perspective on size relationships. One part of the exhibit allowed us to walk inside of a hot air balloon! Exhilarating! S, M, X, L is a temporary exhibit and will only be in residence until October 4, 2015.

Inside a hot air balloon.

Another highlight focused on music, performance arts and the avant-garde jazz movement. We really enjoyed the section on the Art Ensemble of Chicago--particularly the collection of instruments that they use. The exhibit is part of The Freedom Principle exhibit open though November 22. Also in the exhibit is an amazing room full of rainsticks and chimes. If you go, take advantage of siting in the room for moment and absorb a moment of peace and tranquility listening to the chimes and rainsticks.

There is a sculpture garden, so you can step out for a little fresh air and to enjoy some large sculptures. The sculpture garden is small, but incorporating the outdoors in the art experience is always welcome. By the sculpture garden is a terrace where you can sit and enjoy some bites from the museum cafe.

While visiting, definitely take a few minutes to peer down the stairwell. Breathtaking! The spiral encircles the coy pond at the base. Of course, the kiddos will enjoy spying the pond.

Stairwell at Museum of Contemporary Art

Another one of our favorite exhibits is called Out of Office that highlights unique interpretations of what is the seemingly everyday. I especially loved the large scale receipts on hand woven wool canvas. Pretty cool! This exhibit was put together utilizing pieces from the MCA's collection but will only be shown through September 6.

The MCA keeps its exhibits dynamic in that not all of the pieces are shown at one time, so artwork from the museum collection pops up during the creation of different exhibits. Additionally, the museums hosts traveling exhibits. So, each visit is its own adventure!

Things to know:
  • Admission is free for Illinois residents on Tuesdays.
  • Children 12 and under are free.
  • There is an admission discount for students and seniors.
  • The museum is closed on Mondays.
  • The museum may be more suited to older children; the combination of the senses in some of the art may be tempting for reaching out and touching which is prohibited except on exhibits specially marked.
  • We did notice one exhibit with a caution for parents to take a peek before bringing children in. This is good advice no matter what museum--a quick glance can help avoid something uncomfortable.
  • The museum is a moderate size, so not overwhelming.
  • There is a cafe near before exiting for the sculpture garden.

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