With the announcement that it is receiving the largest foundation grant in its history, the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago has recently said the $2.5 million award from The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation will enable the museum to take continued action in its mission to elevate contemporary art and artists, while accelerating the museum’s commitments to the values of IDEA (inclusion, diversity, equity, and access), during the challenges presented by the COVID pandemic. The MCA is one of 12 mid-sized cultural institutions across the country awarded funding from the Mellon Foundation’s new Art Museum Futures Fund, based in part on the vital function the museums serve in meeting the needs of their communities and their admirable response during the pandemic.
In response to the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on museums nationally, the Mellon Foundation’s Art Museum Futures Fund is providing critical financial support to help museums continue supporting their communities. The grants recognize museums with visionary leadership, distinctive collections, commitment to community, and presentation of previously overlooked artists and histories. The award amounts were based on the museum’s pre-COVID operating budgets, and the funds may be used over the next 18 months to support resiliency planning and creative programming.
“Cultural organizations are essential to the vibrancy of their communities and they are experiencing unprecedented financial vulnerability as a result of the pandemic,” said Mellon Foundation President Elizabeth Alexander. “We are determined to safeguard these institutions at this time of national crisis, and we believe firmly in their mission to protect and preserve the visionary voices and transformative histories of their communities. Mellon’s Art Museum Futures Fund is vital to ensuring our country’s artistic and cultural landscape remains prolific after the pandemic passes.”
“Museums have a unique and critical role to play in helping to build a society with an increased sense of social responsibility that is both equitable and inclusive through the lens of art and culture,” added Madeleine Grynsztejn, Pritzker Director of the MCA Chicago. “We know that art can be a powerful tool for commenting on contemporary issues, and that the MCA can play an important role in sparking civic exchange and transformation, as well as supporting Chicago’s artist community. We take this award as recognition of the MCA’s commitment to civic engagement and presenting histories of artists of color that have redefined the field. The Mellon Foundation’s grant ensures that this work can continue even under strenuous conditions.”
“Over the past several years, the MCA embraced a deeper commitment to inclusion, diversity, equity, and access (I.D.E.A.) as part of our museum’s strategic priorities before the COVID pandemic closed most cultural institutions. Now we can expand on that work,” said Grynsztejn. “This level of funding at such a crucial time will allow us to work inside and out: building bridges across communities in Chicago and facilitating a wider outreach of contemporary art and ideas, while increasing our internal work towards being a more responsive, equitable, and sustainable organization. We are deeply grateful for this extraordinary grant from the Mellon Foundation which will have a major impact on our work.”
The Mellon Foundation’s AMFF funding will help support expenses associated with the MCA’s programming and exhibitions, including The Long Dream, featuring recent work by over 70 Chicago artists inspired by the current moment. The exhibition celebrates Chicago’s exceptional artist community and provides them with an amplified platform for exhibiting new work. For the MCA’s community, these artists will be among the first to help imagine how one can navigate a world in the wake of both COVID-19 and renewed calls for racial justice.
After six months of closure due to the coronavirus pandemic, the MCA is now open on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with the first hour of the day dedicated to seniors and people at an increased risk. With the health and safety of the community as its top priority, the MCA has implemented extensive new safety measures that follow city, state, and CDC guidelines. From a new touchless admission process, to a system of newly designed wayfinding to ensure physical distancing, to enhanced cleaning and sanitization, a full roster of new safety measures is online at mcachicago.org/safety.