January - March:
The Record as Artwork: audiovisual presentation of more than
150 phonograph records and album covers created by 20th century artists from Kurt Schwitters to Jim Dine. It will share the east and west galleries with a design show of Bang-Olufsen stereo components: Bang and Olufsen: Design for Sound

January 15: Komar and Melamid discuss their work

March - May:
Recent Photographic Works from the Morton Neumann Family Collection
New Dimensions: Volume and Space, wall paintings and sculptures from the permanent collection

March 23: grand opening – new permanent collection gallery - & - promenade gallery

May - August:

Contemporary American Photographic Works

June - July:
Selected sculpture from the permanent collection

June - August:
Michael Asher installation
Color in Sticks
Sol LeWitt

August - September:
Jonas Dovydenas: Inside Our Homes, Outside Our Windows, 118 photographs of Chicago’s ethnic communities

August - October:
Ancient Roots / New Visions, first major survey of Hispanic-American art.

October - November:
Everson Video Review, survey of contemporary art trends
4 television commercial producers

November - January 1980:
Barnett Newman: The Complete Drawings: 1944 – 1969
Evidence, 79 photographs from the files of government agencies, educational institutions, and corporations – how context alters our perception
Juried works video exhibition

November -  December:
Options 1: Elyn Zimmerman, installation
5th Ithaca Video Festival

December - January 1980:
selections from the permanent collection and the Robert B.
Mayer loan

December - February 1980:
Arshille Gorky: 1936 mural
Outsider Art in Chicago

January - March:
Ma, Space/Time in Japan

February - March:
Options II: Martin Puryear

March - May:
Vito Acconci: a retrospective, 1969 - 1980
Balthus in Chicago Collections

Options III: Lawrence Weiner

May - July:
A restaging of the Tribune’s 1922 architectural competition
Options IV: Helen and Newton Harrison/Talking Water

July - August:
Options V: Steve Keister

August - October:
New Dimensions: Susan Michod, pattern paintings
Nancy Davidson, installation

August – November:
Three-dimensional painting

September - November:
The Portrait Extended

October - December:
pieces from the permanent collection

November – February 1981:
Options 6: Hyong Nam Ahn

December - February 1981:
“conceptual works involving time”

January - February:
Karl Wirsum: Hare Toddy Kong Tamari
Philip Guston

January - March:
German Realism of the 1920s
California Performance Now and Then,
lecture & performance series
Options 7: Jane Wenger

February - April:
Roger Brown
Chuck Close portraits

April - May:
Artists’ books from the permanent collection

April - June:
Robert Smithson
Options 8: Ritzi and Peter Jacobi

April 24:
Artists’ Gardens and Parks

Kick Out the Jams: Detroit Cass Corridor exhibit

July - August:
Options 9: Shigako Kubota

7 artists: A look at the work of some graduates of Chicago art schools

September - November:
Margaret Wharton
Selections from the permanent collection

November - January 1982:
Charles Simonds

December 13 - 14:
Options 10: Disband at the Dustbowl

January - March:
Dennis Adrian collection
Sophie Taeuber-Arp
Museum of Modern Art Paintings and Sculptures

March - June:
Contemporary Dutch Art

April - May:
Options 11: Although Marco Polo Never Heard of Chicago, Its Story Really Begins with Him

May - August:
Options 12: Melvin Charney

May 19 - 20:
Options 13: Laurie Anderson

June - August:
Yves Klein

July - August:
Options 14: Selected Works by John Cage and Other Composers

August - October:
Gordon Matta-Clark

October 3 -24:
Nam June Paik, video works
Works from the permanent collection

November - January 1983:
Magdalena Abakanowicz

November 13-14:
Options: Disband, an all-woman ensemble of visual artists

January - March:
Art of the Avant-Garde in Russia: Selections from the George Costakis Collection
Options 15: Alice Aycock sculptural project
Selections from the Mary and Earle Ludgin Collection

March - May:
Kenneth Josephson
Naïve and Outsider Painting from Germany

June - August:
Awards in the Visual Arts 2

June - July: 
Options 16: Dogs! Group exhibition

September - October:
Louise Bourgeois

September - October:
The Frozen Image: Scandinavian Photography

October - January 1984:
Options 17: Peter Joseph

Options 18: Whitney Biennial film exhibition and selections form the Video Data Bank

November - January 1984:
Malcolm Morley

January - April:
Options 19: Dieter Roth

February - April:

Options 20: Rebecca Horn
Expressions: New Art from Germany: Georg Baselitz, Jorg Immendorf, Anselm Kieffer, Markus Lupertz, A.R. Penck

April - June – extended through August 12:
Options 21: Giuseppe Penone
150 pieces from the permanent collection

June - August:
Alternative Spaces: A History in Chicago

September - November:
Hockney Paints the Stage

December - January 1985:
Dada and Surrealism in Chicago Collections

February -  April:
Options 22: Paul Rosin
Options 23: Ken Warneke
Options 24: Jin Soo Kim
Options 25: Jo Anne Carson
Leon Golub: Work 1952-1984

April 1 - 2:
Options 26: Man and Trout: The Manners Project

April - June:
Selections from the William J. Hokin Collection

May - August:
Gordon Matta-Clark

June - August:
The Electronic Language: New Video and Performance

September - November:
Edward and Nancy Reddin Kienholz: Human Scale

September - December:

Artists’ Books and Recordings: Selections from the Permanent Collection

September - February 1986:
Nouveau Realisme and Pop Art: Selections from the Permanent Collection

December - February 1986:
Eric Fischl

1986 (Admission is $3.50 & $2.50 for students and seniors)
January - April:
Abstract Painting and Sculpture: 1950s – 1980s
Portraits: Selections from the Permanent Collection

March - April:
Robert Morris: Works of the Eighties

May - August:
Ludwig Mies van der Rohe Centennial exhibit

August - October:

Options 28: Jon Kessler sculpture

September - October:
Miroslaw Rogala, video works

October - January 1987:
Jannis Kounellis

January - April:
British Sculpture Since 1965

April - July:
The Spiritual in Art: Abstract Paintings 1890-1985

July - August 21, extended to September 18:

Chicago Artists from the Permanent Collection

August - September:
Options 29: Images for Human Conduct: Mary Ahrendt, Anita David, Robert Peters, Jonathan Waterbury
Options 30: Jennie Holzer

September - November:
Donald Sultan

November - January 1988:
David Salle retrospective
Options 31: Nancy Chunn

January - April:
Cross References: Sculpture Into Photography
Ed Ruscha, recent paintings

February - April:
The Marshal Frankel Collection

April - June:
Christian Boltanski: Lessons of Darkness
Francesco Clemente: 14 Stations of the Cros

July - August:
Nancy Spero: Works Since 1950
Jeff Koons, sculpture

Options 33: Odd Nerdrum

September - October:
Forrest Bess

September - November:
Gerhard Richter: Paintings

October - December:
Options 34: Mike and Doug Starn, photoworks

December - February 1989:
Three Decades: The Oliver-Hoffman Collection

December - January 1989:   
Options 35: Tom Czarnopys

1989 (admisison is now $4 and $2)
February - April:
Robert Mapplethorpe: The Perfect Moment - highest turnout ever
Chicago Artists in the European Tradition

May - June 18 – extended to July 9:
Object, Site, Sensation: New German Sculpture

April - June 18 – extended to July 9:
Selections from the Permanent Collection

June - July:
Options 36: Mark Innerst

July - September:
Peter Saul retrospective

August - October:
Arnulf Rainer retrospective

October 7 - 24:
Video Art, Video Documentation From Our First Two Decades

October - November:
Permanent Collection: Promised Gifts

November - January 1990:
The Photography of Invention: American Picture of the '80s

December - February 1990:
Options 37: Tunga

February - April:
Robert Longo

February - April:
Options 38: Richard Rezac

May - July:  
Toward the Future: Contemporary Art in Context
Options 39: Will Kopf

July - September:
Secrets, Dialogues, Revelations: The Art of Betye and Alison Saar
Julian Schnabel: Works on Paper 1975-1988

October - December:
The Primal Spirit: Ten Contemporary Japanese Sculptors
Toward the Future: Contemporary Art in Context

January - March:
Cuba-USA: The First Generation, which represents the work of 43 artists who emigrated to the US after Fidel Castro solidified his power. Artists such as Mario Petrirena and Jorge Pardo are featured.
Options 40: Cheri Samba

March - May:
Options 41: Julia Wachtel
Christian Boltanski

April - June:

Jean-Pierre Raynaud

May - July:
Options 42: Daniel Senise

June - September:
Sigmar Polke: The first North American exhibition

July - August:
Realism, Figurative Painting, and the Chicago Viewpoint

September - November:

The Art of Romare Bearden, 1940-1987
Rosemarie Trockel – 1st American exhibition

November - January 1992:

Alan Rath: 15 video sculptures
Margin of Safety:Installations by 6 recent female graduates of SAIC

December - January 1992:
Options 43: Lorie Novak


January - April:
Options 44: Yasumasa Morimura

February - April:
Robert Rauschenberg: The Early 1950s
John Cage: Scores from the Early 1950s: Exhibitions of little-known paintings and music by two of America’s most influential artists.

May - August:
Donald Lipski: The Bells
Alfredo Jaar: Geography = War: Temporary installations, ranging from sleight of hand to social conscience

August - November:
Conceptualism-Postconceptualism: The 1960s to the 1990s

September - January 1993:
Art in the Armory: Occupied Territory

November - January 1993:

Emmett Gowin

November - March 1993:

Lorna Simpson: For the Sake of the Viewer

(Admission fees are now $4 and $2 for students)

February - March:
Options 45: Libby Wadsworth
Conceptual Photography From the Gerald S. Elliott Collection

April - June:
Hand-Painted Pop: American Art in Transition, 1955-62

July - September:
Options 46: Rachel Whiteread
Stepan Yakovlevich Koshelev

Ilya Kabakov and Vladimir Tarasov: Incident at the Museum, or Water Music

August - September

Susan Rothenberg: Paintings and Drawings

November - January 1994:
In the Spirit of Fluxus

February - April:
Radical Scavenger(s): The Conceptual Vernacular in Recent American Art

May - August:
Under Development: Dreaming the MCA's Collection

September - October:
Options 47: Gabriel Orozco

Gary Hill

November - December:

Options 48: Dan Peterman

September – November:
Vincent Shine
Selections from the Permanent Collection: Conceptual Photography from the Gerald S. Elliott Collection

Kay Rosen, Vincent Shine and Hollis Sigler

November - January 1995:
Jeanne Dunning
Jim Lutes: The Development of Style


January 14 – March 12:
Options 49: Hiroshi Sugimoto
Some Went Mad, Some Ran Away ...

April - June:
Franz Kline: Black and White, 1950-61
Bruce Nauman: Elliott's Stones

June - August:
Wesley Kimler

June - September:
Jack Pierson

July - September:
Jeff Wall

September - November:
Beyond Belief: Contemporary Art From East Central Europe

October - December:
Options 50: Beverly Semmes

November - January 1996:
Dan Peterman: Sulfur Cycle

December - February 1996:

Andres Serrano: Works 1983-1993
Moving Forward, Looking Back: A Photo History of the MCA
Jim Lutes: The Development of Style

February 4, 1996 MCA on Ontario Street closes

When the new, expanded MCA opened in March 1979, one of its galleries, endowed by the Borg-Warner Corporation, became devoted to Chicago area artists and was known as the Borg-Warner Gallery of Chicago and Vicinity Art. Another gallery was devoted to works form the museum's collection.

Also launching with the newly renovated MCA was the Options series of exhibitions, which focused on younger artists or experimental projects by established artists. Fifty Options shows would complete the series and close out exhibitions at the museum's Ontario Street location.

The curatorial staff grew during this period in the MCA's development. When the Museum of Contemporary Art opened in October 1967, the museum had one curator and the director had a hand in curating shows. David Katzive and Jan Van der Marck, the curator and director, respectively, were responsible for the exhibition programming until Van der Marck resigned in 1970.

Until MCA director Kevin Consey began his nine year tenure in 1989, the museum's directors also curated shows:
1967 - 70: Jan Van der Marck
1971 - 77: Stephen Prokopoff
1978 - 83: John Hallmark Neff
1984 - 88: I. Michael Danoff

With the help of Lynne Warren, MCA curator since 1981, this is a loose chronicle of the earliest curatorial staff:

1967 - 70: David Katzive
1971 - 74: Patricia Stewart
1974 - 76: Ira Licht
1976 - 80: Judith Ross Kirshner
          Assistant Curator: Pauline Saliga
1980: Guest Curator: Judith Tannenbaum
1981 - present: Lynne Warren
          Since 1981, Warren has had many curatorial titles, including,           Curatorial Assistant, Assistant Curator of Special Projects, and           Acting Chief Curator, her title is now simply, Curator.
1980 - 86: Chief Curator, Mary Jane Jacob
          Collections Curator: Dennis Nawrocki
1987: Acting Chief Curator: Lynne Warren
1987 – 91: Chief Curator: Bruce Guenther
1991 - 93: Associate Curator: Beryl J. Wright
1993 - 97: Richard Francis, Chief Curator
           Curator of Collections: Lucinda Barnes (left in 1998)
           Curator of Exhibitions: Amanda Cruz
           (Cruz left in 1998 after a year as Acting Chief Curator)

The MCA on Ontario closed February 4, 1996.

Since the Museum of Contemporary Art opened at 220 East Chicago Avenue, in June 1996, it's curatorial staff has grown parallel to the grander exhibition spaces. See the 1996-2013: Current Location tab, above for details.

New York Times, March 24, 1979: Hilton Kramer:
For the “Wall Painting” exhibition, the museum invited five artists – Marcia Hafif, Richard Jackson, Lucio Pozzi, Robert Ryman and Robert Yasuda – to create vast works directly on the walls of the gallery. The result is a group of temporary visual environments that will cease to exist when the show closes. Artists’ installations of this temporary sort, now very much in vogue in museums specializing in contemporary art, are to be a significant part of the museum’s future program under its director, John Hallmark Ness [sic].”  Judith Russi Kirshner curated the show with Linda Blumberg of the P.S. 1 artists’ project in Long Island City, New York.

Chicago Tribune, May 13, 1979

Chicago Tribune, October 15, 1979

Chicago Tribune, March 21, 1980

Chicago Tribune, September 14, 1980, headline for The Portrait Extended.

Chicago Tribune, April 12, 1981

1984 exhibition curated by Lynne Warren


Chicago Tribune, April 1988

Chicago Tribune, July 31, 1988

The MCA showed Robert Mapplethorpe's The Perfect Moment exhibit that they received from Philadelphia's Institute of Contemporary Art in February 1989. Mapplethorpe died of AIDS while the show was in Chicago; the MCA's materials say the show broke museum attendance records.

The poster, above, is from Cincinnati's Contemporary Arts Center, where museum director, Dennis Barrie was indicted on pornography charges within days of the exhibition opening. The ensuing landmark case (Barrie and the museum were acquitted of the charges) along with the Andre Serrano NEA controversy helped set the tone of political and activist art that would follow. Chicago's MCA exhibited Serrano in their final show at the Ontario Street location: Andres Serrano: Works 1983-1993.

Chicago Tribune, December 1989

1992 exhibition curated by Beryl J. Wright and Saidiya V. Hartman

Beryl J. Wright's 1992 Art at the Armory: Occupied Territory