Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago

 In Locations

One of my favorite subjects to photograph are staircases, especially a good spiral staircase. And one of the best in Chicago is at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago (MCA). Located just off the Mag Mile, and one of the world’s largest contemporary art venues, the current location was designed by Josef Paul Kleihues, opening in 1996.

While the art is interesting, we’re gonna focus on the incredible architecture. Specifically the original staircase in the northwest corner of the building. Plus, the newly designed, smaller, staircase designed by Johnston Marklee in the northeast corner, which pays tribute to the Kleihues original.

Let’s start with the original. Spanning 5 floors, this geometric spiral is a thrill to photograph. From wide shots, top to bottom and in-between. Low-key vs. High-key.

mca, josef paul kleihues

mca, josef paul kleihues

mca, josef paul kleihues

To details and abstracts.

mca, josef paul kleihues

mca, josef paul kleihues

mca, josef paul kleihues

All perspectives are intriguing with this staircase. The same can be said for the new staircase by Johnston Marklee. Only 2 floors, there are still some great curves and lines to play with.

mca, johnston marklee

mca, johnston marklee

mca, johnston marklee

mca, johnston marklee

mca, johnston marklee

I have to admit, I prefer both staircases from a wider perspective. That’s definitely rare for me but the wider perspective exaggerates the drama in both locations. Just my preference. If you’ve photographed here we’d love to see what you’ve come away with. Please feel free to share on our Facebook Group, Architecture Photography Unfolded.

If you’ve never photographed this location but would love to and would like some guidance, I’ll be teaching a 2-day workshop at Chicago Photography Classes on March 9-10. This will be just one of our stops 🙂

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