Museum of Contemporary Art

Top choice in Chicago

Consider it the Art Institute’s brash, rebellious sibling, with especially strong minimalist, surrealist, and conceptual photography collections. Covering art from the 1920s onward, the MCA’s collection spans the gamut, with displays arranged to blur the boundaries between painting, sculpture, video, and other media. Exhibits change regularly so you never know what you'll see, but count on it being offbeat and provocative. Illinois residents get free admission on Tuesday.

Docents lead free, 45-minute tours of the exhibitions; enquire at the 2nd-floor visitor service desk.

Definitely worth a visit is the museum's fantastic, two-level shop. Besides extensive book offerings in all kinds of art and design – photography, fashion, film, music, graphic design, conceptual art, and criticism – and a well-stocked children's book section, it features a whole floor of housewares, gifts, accessories, and jewelry. It's the perfect place to pick up a chunky necklace for an artsy friend.

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