Past Exhibitions

A complete list of exhibitions from 1979-2011 is available here

September 9, 2012 to December 30, 2012

Leo Villareal

September 9, 2012 to December 30, 2012

A pioneer in the use of LEDs and computer-driven imagery, Leo Villareal is increasingly renowned for his light sculptures and architectural, site-specific works. With more than fifteen sculptures and installations, Leo Villareal is the artist’s first major traveling museum survey. The exhibition was organized by the San Jose Museum of Art.

June 22, 2012 to August 19, 2012

Animal Cams

Sam Easterson's Animal Cams are on view in MMoCA's New Media Gallery, across from the main galleries (enter from the second floor landing). Eighteen different "animal cams" are shown on a continuous loop.

June 2, 2012 to August 19, 2012

one must know the animals

One must know the animals, a new exhibition in the main galleries of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, opens June 2 and continues through August 19, 2012. Through works drawn from the museum’s permanent collection, the exhibition provides a platform to question and discuss our relationship with the animal kingdom.

The title of the exhibition is drawn from The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge, a novel by Rainer Maria Rilke published in 1910. In the novel, Rilke, who is best known as a poet, addressed requirements for writing poems:

May 26, 2012 to September 23, 2012

Cecelia Condit: Within a Stone's Throw

The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art presents Cecelia Condit: Within a Stone’s Throw in the museum’s State Street Gallery and lobby from May 26 to September 23, 2012. The exhibition, composed of the artist’s recent videos and large-scale photographs, investigates perceptions of reality, scale, and nature.

May 11, 2012 to May 26, 2013


Artists throughout history have pictured reality as understood by their societies. Embedded in works of art are assumptions, varying from culture to culture, about the nature of all things. What is reality? Is it objective and understandable, or subjective and elusive? Finite and predictable, or infinite and in constant flux? Philosophers, theologians, and scientists, as well as poets and artists, have traditionally reflected on these questions.

February 11, 2012 to May 13, 2012

Houdini: Art and Magic

Harry Houdini (1874–1926), the renowned magician and escape artist, was one of the twentieth century’s most famous performers. His gripping theatrical presentations and heart-stopping outdoor spectacles attracted unprecedented crowds, and his talent for self-promotion and provocation captured headlines on both sides of the Atlantic.

January 14, 2012 to April 16, 2012

¡Tierra y Libertad! Revolution and the Modernist Mexican Print

In one of the great upheavals of the twentieth century, the Mexican Revolution (1910–1920) fundamentally changed the country’s political and social order. Prints in a new exhibition at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art focus on the search by Mexican artists for a national identity in the wake of the revolution. ¡Tierra y Libertad!

September 11, 2011 to January 15, 2012
September 11, 2011 to January 8, 2012

Chicago School: Imagists in Context

Chicago School: Imagists in Context explores the distinctive artistic style that began to emerge in Chicago after World War II and which dominated the visual culture of the city for many decades. The exhibition offers a broad cultural framework in which to consider the work of the artists who became known as Chicago Imagists. Drawing from the museum’s permanent collection, the exhibition presents works by artists who influenced the Imagists or were influenced by them. 

June 25, 2011 to April 19, 2012

E Pluribus Unum: Artists Picture Society

E Pluribus Unum. Out of many, one. This Latin phrase—the motto on the Great Seal of the United States—declares that the country’s diverse citizenry is bound together in a greater whole for the good of all. The phrase states, in three simple words, the fundamental premise of American society.

May 28, 2011 to September 4, 2011

The Industrial Modern

The relentless energy of the Industrial Revolution transformed the physical, economic, and socio-political landscape of Europe and the United States. The rapid changes precipitated by industrialization—mechanization, regimented labor, urbanization—coincided with a growing interest among Western artists in visually representing the rhythms and realities of everyday life.

May 21, 2011 to August 21, 2011

Picturing Technology: Land and Machine

From the invention of the wheel to industrialization to the digital age, new technologies have been associated with intellectual and cultural advances. And yet throughout the ages, there have been reactions against technology—movements that oppose the advances of science and innovation in favor of more natural lifestyles.

March 20, 2011 to May 15, 2011

Young at Art 2011

Young at Art, which opened March 20 in the State Street Gallery of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, presents works of art by Madison Metropolitan School District students in kindergarten through grade 12. The exhibition is the result of a long-standing collaboration between MMoCA and the school district’s Fine Arts Department. 

January 22, 2011 to May 8, 2011

Shinique Smith: Menagerie

In her first large-scale museum exhibition, multi-media artist Shinique Smith presents site-specific installations, as well as two- and three-dimensional works created over the last decade. Shinique Smith: Menagerie presents almost fifty installations, paintings, photographs, sculptures, and works on paper, as well as two videos. The exhibition will be on view in MMoCA’s main galleries from January 22 through May 8, 2011.

December 11, 2010 to March 6, 2011

Shrin Neshat: Rapture

The Madison Museum of Contemporary Art presents Shirin Neshat: Rapture in the museum’s State Street Gallery from December 11, 2010, through March 6, 2011. Neshat, who was born in Iran and moved to the United States in 1978, at the age of 17, is highly acclaimed for her films, photographs, and videos that explore the experience of women living in contemporary and traditional Islamic cultures. Neshat’s seminal video installation Rapture (1999) is on loan to MMoCA from The Art Institute of Chicago.

September 12, 2010 to January 2, 2011

Clayton Brothers: Inside Out

Clayton Brothers: Inside Out, a new major exhibition at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, presents twenty-six paintings and three mixed-media installations created collaboratively by Rob and Christian Clayton. The Clayton Brothers construct complex narratives that introduce memorable characters and comment wryly on contemporary life. The exhibition, which is organized by museum director Stephen Fleischman, will be on view in the museum’s main galleries from September 12, 2010, through January 2, 2011.

August 28, 2010 to November 14, 2010

Focus/Madison: Works from the Permanent Collection

Context, setting, and place influence much of our thinking. This is especially true for artists who garner inspiration from the world around them. On view in MMoCA’s State Street Gallery,Focus/Madison: Works from the Permanent Collection examines works in the collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art that feature the city itself.

August 18, 2010 to June 26, 2011

True Self: The Search for Identity in Modern and Contemporary Art

The notion of the “self,” the essential quality that makes a person distinct from all others, is a core theme in modern and contemporary art. Its primary formats are the portrait and self-portrait, which focus on the identity and psychology of the model. For the artist, the true self is fluid, not fixed; layered, not clearly evident. The true self is both innate and determined by experience and culture. Never consistent, it is often self-contradictory.

May 22, 2010 to August 15, 2010

Wisconsin Triennial 2010

The 2010 Wisconsin Triennial, on view at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art through August 15, 2010, is the museum’s twelfth survey of artists living and working in the state. Forty-two individuals and two pairs of artists working in collaboration participate in the exhibition, which is installed in the museum’s lobby, State Street Gallery, New Media Gallery, second floor landing, and main galleries.

April 24, 2010 to September 26, 2010

Then and Again: A Public Project by Nicolas Lampert

Drawing on the city’s long tradition of politically charged graphic design in public settings, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art presents Then and Again: A Public Project by Nicolas Lampert. The exhibition, comprised of six signs created by Lampert, will be on view in outdoor locations in Madison’s downtown this spring and summer.

January 23, 2010 to April 11, 2010

Apple Pie: Symbols of Americana in MMoCA's Permanent Collection

Since the first decades of European settlement, American identity has revolved around a handful of promises, among them: the awesome nature of the American landscape, the bounty of the American West, and the opportunity of the American city or settlement. Opening January 23, 2010, at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Apple Pie: Symbols of Americana in MMoCA's Permanent Collection features more than 80 paintings, photographs, prints, and objects that address American identity through imagery ranging from big cars and hamburger joints to cowboys and fields of corn.