The Women’s Board of the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago has announced the return of Vernissage, the opening-night benefit and preview of Expo Chicago, the International Exposition of Modern & Contemporary Art on Wednesday, September 13, 2017. Guests will be treated to an exclusive first look at art from 135 of the world’s leading international galleries participating in the sixth annual exposition (Sept. 13 – 17) in Navy Pier’s Festival Hall (600 E. Grand Ave.).

A French term for art openings, Vernissage, or ‘varnishing day,’ evokes the energy and excitement that surrounds the commencement of this major international art event—attracting more than 3,000 visitors each year. Guests are invited to take in the beautiful sights of the lakefront before walking out onto the vast show floor for an exclusive look at more than 3,000 pieces of artwork from 25 countries and 58 cities. The Women’s Board has partnered with Expo Chicago to present Vernissage since the inception of the exposition 6 years ago. This year, the annual event comes at a particularly auspicious time, as the Women’s Board is celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2017.

“Vernissage is an evening marked by infectious energy, the opportunity to see some of the best works of art from around the world, and a remarkable philanthropic spirit,” said MCA Pritzker Director Madeleine Grynsztejn. “This year, as the MCA marks its 50th anniversary—and as our tremendous Women’s Board celebrates its phenomenal legacy—we toast to Expo Chicago and the incredibly vibrant Chicago arts community. Together as a city we all have established Chicago as an international capital of contemporary art.”

​This unique celebration, co-chaired by MCA Women’s Board members Tonya Geesman, Christine Poggianti and Ellen Wallace, begins with a patron reception at 5 p.m. in the VIP Collector’s Lounge, presented by Northern Trust (located on the main floor of Festival Hall), featuring food by some of Chicago’s top restaurants and food providers including: 20E, Talbott Hotel, BellyQ, Chicago Raw, Marisol, Eli’s Cheesecake, Skinny Pop and more. Featured beverage sponsors include Lagunitas and Terrazas de los Andes.

“The Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago is a longstanding partner of Expo Chicago, working closely with us on numerous collaborations and the venerable Vernissage opening night tradition,” said President | Director of Expo Chicago Tony Karman. “We are sincerely grateful to be a part of the MCA’s and the Women’s Board’s 50th Anniversary celebration and look forward to many more years of collaborations.”

Vernissage is sponsored by CIRM, Grund & Leavitt, Hu-Friedy, Belgravia Group, Dining Out and Northern Trust. Event partners are Navy Pier, Inc. and Expo Chicago.

Proceeds from Vernissage support the MCA’s education programs that offer compelling opportunities to explore, challenge and discuss the most important issues of our time, with contemporary art as a catalyst.

​Tickets to Vernissage, the opening reception (6 – 9:00 p.m.), start at $100 (MCA members). To purchase tickets, please visit or call 312.397.4010.  

Museum of Contemporary Art's Vernissage Benefit Returning to Navy Pier to Kick Off Expo Chicago 2017

Vernissage 2015 at Chicago's Navy Pier (photo courtesy of Expo Chicago).