What happens behind the scenes when a museum’s home is being prepared? Aside from presenting pop-up exhibits, MakeArt workshops, and hosting open forums with classes from CCA, researching and program planning for future exhibits are critical tasks.
One reconnaissance mission was held in November as MCD staff invaded SOFA Chicago. Our executive director and curator led a round table discussion with other museum directors and curators from around the country. Programming ideas were shared and contacts were exchanged. This type of networking strengthens all organizations involved. Roaming the vast Navy Pier exhibition area provided more opportunities for connecting with other museum professionals as well as gallery owners, collectors and of course, discovering “new” artists. Some of these discoveries, many of which were stunning examples of well-crafted design, will find their way to future MCD exhibits.
Our new exhibition space, with a custom-built movable interior wall system, will be thoroughly flexible, enabling us to reconfigure the size and shape of exhibit galleries as needed. The Museum will have the versatility to bring a wide spectrum of creative presentations to our community, allowing us to display concurrent exhibits, or, if desired, open up our space to one large solo installation. We’ll also have a dedicated workshop space—a permanent home for MakeArt—and a fabulous new Museum store stocked with some amazing craft and design goodies. (Just a heads-up: the curator has seen some of this inventory as it arrived at our holding space, and he might be first in line on opening day.)
Our first series of exhibits are already lined up to inaugurate our long overdue new home. The centerpiece will be the grand homecoming of the MCD-organized Michael Cooper: A Sculptural Odyssey, 1968-2011, featuring surreal, technically amazing sculptural objects. Showing at the same time will be the installation work of renowned artist Arline Fisch and another unique installation by the immensely talented and rule-breaking artist Rebecca Hutchinson. These exhibitions promise some surprises in their novel approaches to materials. And here’s a “leak”: If you like mid century furniture design, you might want to note a future exhibit to be announced later in our calendar. (Could it be Herman Miller?)
So what about after that? I’m not revealing secrets, but our programming strategy is direct: bring the highest quality of craft and design driven exhibits to our community that we possibly can within our means; exhibits that not only illustrate ideas, but also ask questions and inspire conversations. We’ll present works and projects by the courageous explorers of traditional as well as unexpected mediums. We’ll engage designers whose purpose has never been to conform, but to challenge or to change a way of doing, seeing, thinking – sometimes only to provoke. We are quite likely to present craft and design works that you may not even recognize as such.
Get ready, this is going to be fun!
Marc D’Estout, curator