Installation view from Frida Kahlo’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States, January 13–March 5, 1978.


Notable exhibitions include The Architectural Vision of Paolo Soleri and Selections from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. Joseph Randall Shapiro, an exhibition of paintings, drawings, and sculpture from one of North America’s leading collections of Surrealist and Dadaist art. Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Rauschenberg, and Andy Warhol are given one-person exhibitions.


In Murals for the People four artists use the MCA’s galleries as their workspace to create wall-size panels which are exhibited in various Chicago neighborhoods. The MCA organizes Milanese artist Enrico Baj’s first solo museum exhibition in the United States, and White on White, an important survey of works of art that are all white. Stephen S. Prokopoff becomes director.


The MCA presents the first US retrospective exhibition of work by American artist Lee Bontecou. Chicago Imagist Art is the first major museum exhibition to examine the work of the Chicago imagists. Modern Masters from Chicago Collections is a survey of paintings, drawings, and sculpture created between 1910 and 1960.

Invitation to the fifth anniversary celebration


The MCA presents a memorial exhibition of the work of Eva Hesse, before most other institutions have recognized her importance. American artists Richard Artschwager and Alan Shields receive their first one-person museum exhibitions at the MCA.


Major exhibitions include Duane Hanson/John De Andrea: The Real and Ideal in Figurative Sculpture and a survey of work by Chicago artist Jim Nutt. The MCA opens Alexander Calder: A Retrospective Exhibition simultaneously with the unveiling of two of the artist’s major public sculptures in Chicago. Edwin A. Bergman is elected president.


Performance artist Chris Burden lies under a sheet of glass in the MCA’s galleries for 45 hours straight, garnering around-the-clock national media attention. The MCA gives Robert Irwin his first solo museum exhibition.


Historical themes are explored in Abstract Art in Chicago and One Hundred Years of Architecture in Chicago: Continuity of Structure and Form. Among the artists featured in provocative exhibitions are Manierre Dawson, Richard Diebenkorn, Clarence John Laughlin, Joel Shapiro, and John Storrs. Lewis Manilow becomes president.


The highlight of the exhibition schedule is the first showing of Antoni Tàpies’s work at an American museum. The MCA marks its 10th anniversary by launching a major fundraising drive and purchasing the three-story townhouse next to the museum. The expansion of the MCA’s galleries serves as the humorous focus for Claes Oldenburg’s The Mouse Museum/The Ray Gun Wing.


The MCA uses the renovation of the adjacent townhouse as the occasion for an exhibition. Gordon Matta-Clark saws through the walls and floors of the annex to create the first “exstallation” in the space. Other highlights include Frida Kahlo’s first solo museum show in the United States, a June Leaf retrospective exhibition, and Art in a Turbulent Era: German and Austrian Expressionism. John Hallmark Neff is named director.


The MCA reopens with four new galleries. Max Neuhaus’s sound installation is an integral part of the expanded building. The Options series of exhibitions, focusing on younger artists or experimental projects by established figures, is inaugurated. Provocative exhibitions include Sol LeWitt, Fotografia Polska, and Wall Painting.