Although Chicago has a long history of support for the fine arts, it was not until after World War II that it became an important city for modern and contemporary artists, dealers, and collectors. In addition to the Art Institute of Chicago's early sponsorship of modern art, the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) opened its doors to important recent art in 1967, reopening in a new facility in 1996 designed by the German architect Josef Paul Kleihues. The MCA is the largest institution in the world devoted to contemporary art.
Chicago's important collectors since World War II have been significantly attracted to Surrealism, with reputations for some of the finest collections of this type of art in the world. This mirrors Chicago artists' interest in magic realism in the postwar years. The many galleries devoted to new art, which began to appear in the 1960s, have been complemented since 1981 by Art Chicago (Art Expo), an annual exhibition of modern and contemporary art staged by national and international galleries and dealers. For many years it took place on the city's famous Navy Pier.