Past Exhibitions

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

April 12, 2013 to May 19, 2013

Young at Art 2013

Children who receive high-quality art education develop visual literacy and creative problem solving skills that are vital for succeeding in today’s world. Presenting works of art by Madison Metropolitan School District students in kindergarten through grade twelve, Young at Art  highlights the high caliber of studio art instruction in Madison’s public schools as well as the integration of art history and cultural studies in the visual art curriculum.

January 19, 2013 to April 28, 2013

Simon Payne: Color Field Videos

The British video artist Simon Payne creates digital works that investigate the interplay of color, movement, and abstract form. Five of Payne’s short videos will be screened in MMoCA’s New Media Gallery, adjacent to the main galleries on the second floor, in conjunction with Ellsworth Kelly Prints, from January 19 through April 28, 2013.

January 19, 2013 to April 28, 2013

Ellsworth Kelly Prints

For over fifty years, Ellsworth Kelly (b. 1923) has been recognized as a leading American painter and sculptor. His art of emphatic form and vibrant color--lyrical and serenely self-confident--is a finely wrought distillation of shapes observed in nature. Kelly’s prints, no less than his paintings and sculptures, have their own distinctive voice. They register equally important aspects of his vision: intimacy, delicacy, and ethereality.

January 19, 2013 to March 30, 2013

The Force of Color

Where color in art is freed from describing the objective world or telling a story, the experience of color itself becomes the subject. As an adjunct to MMoCA’s exhibition of prints by the great colorist Ellsworth Kelly, The Force of Color addresses the role of strong color in the abstraction of the 1960s, the decade that witnessed the recognition of Kelly as a major artist.

October 5, 2012 to January 6, 2013

The Singing Bird Room of Robert Lostutter

Drawn from the permanent collection of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, The Singing Bird Room of Robert Lostutter surveys the work of one of the leading Chicago artists of recent decades. In the early 1970s, a sojourn in Mexico and his love of nature led Robert Lostutter to seize upon a theme that came to define his mature style. A superb draftsman and watercolorist, he began making portraits of male figures masked with the plumage of tropical birds or the petals and leaves of orchids. Lostutter’s mythic creatures are both disturbing and radiantly beautiful, fusions of animal and human, nature and culture.

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.

September 9, 2012 to December 30, 2012

Structural Films

September 9 to December 30, 2012

A series of digitized Structural films are on view through December 30 in the New Media Gallery. Often categorized as a minimal strain of experimental cinema, Structural films are built around an underlying organizational pattern or predetermined conceptual framework. They employ calculated manipulations of content that suggest perceptual puzzles are at play, and thus call attention to the film-viewing process.

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.