Singer Janelle Monáe performed at the kick-off event for the new MCA exhibition,Takashi Murakami:The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg (photo by Braxton Black for Jeremy Lawson Photography, © MCA Chicago).


MCA Soiree Raises $3M in Kick-off of Takashi Murakami


The biggest names in Chicago's social scene gathered at the MCA on Saturday, June 3, 2017 for a gala to kick-off the Museum of Contemporary Art's 50th anniversary and to open the highly-anticipated Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg exhibition. Guests of the event enjoyed an exclusive first look at the exhibition, which marks Mr. Murakami's first museum retrospective in North America in 10 years and features a never-before-seen monumental masterpiece. Over 600 guests attended, raising $3 million with proceeds benefiting future MCA exhibitions, performances and education programming.

​Guests enjoyed a special video message sent by the musical curator of the evening, Pharrell Williams, who introduced his friend and celebrity performer Janelle Monáe, hot off of her 2017 Academy Award win for Best Picture in Moonlight. Monáe, decked out in her signature colors of black and white, performed a set of some of her top hits. During her performance Monáe said, "If you support artists, you support freedom."

Notable guests at the gala included: Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Chicago First Lady Amy Rule, Leslie Bluhm and David Helfand, Nancy and Steven Crown, Marc Ecko, Dr. Julius Few, Ikram and Josh Goldman.

Guests arrived to an exhibition preview of The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg by the artist Takashi Murakami, and the artist himself greeted guests as they arrived. Among the evening's highlights were cocktails amidst colorful sculptures featuring oversized 50’s that celebrated the museum's anniversary in the MCA's Kovler Atrium. Then guests followed a path to Lake Shore Park just behind the museum where a massive tent-provided by HDO Productions-featured décor designed in partnership with Takashi Murakami and created by Heffernan Morgan. There guests enjoyed dinner and dessert before the concert.

The evening's program included a commemorative 50th Anniversary video that celebrated the founders of the MCA, including Beatrice C. Mayer, who was in attendance. To conclude the evening, guests acted as live performance artists, decorating celebratory birthday cakes for the MCA's anniversary.

Regarding the event, MCA Pritzker Director Madeleine Grynsztejn said, "We are celebrating the visionary group of Chicagoans who, 50 years ago, decided that our amazing city needed a contemporary art museum. We also are celebrating the museum's redesign, a project that propels us into the next 50 years. And of course, how better to mark this wonderful occasion than by debuting this unparalleled, absolutely stunning exhibition." She went on to remark, "We are particularly grateful for the efforts of our co-chairs, Marlene Breslow-Blitstein and Berle Blitstein, Helyn Goldenberg and Michael Alper, James Litinsky, and Pamela Netzky and Ashley Hemphill-Netzky. Their support was critical for making the evening a success, and we look forward to continuing to work with them on future endeavors."

Information about MCA exhibitions, programs, and special events is available on the MCA website at or by phone at 312.280.2660.