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Above: 'From the Tropics with Love' Pedro Y Juana rendition, 2018  

Below: The Commons, MCA Chicago, 2019 Photos: Nathan Keay,©MCA Chicago

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The Commons:  From the Tropics with Love 

Pedro Y Juana 

Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago 


As part of a $16m renovation, the MCA's Commons was created as a place of artistic and civic exchange at the heart of the museum. I led the charge for the education strategic plan, led the commission, selected the artists and implemented this large scale public commission. From the Tropics with Love for the Commons is a site-specific installation. An urban garden consisting of 221 planters and lamps, indoor plants, a collapsible stage, and a suite of multi-functional furniture by Mexico City- based architecture firm Pedro y Juana (Ana Paula Ruiz Galindo and Mecky Reuss). The work leading to the installation included contract negotiations, site planning and preparation, establishing the work in relation to the planned design, the identification of the processes, techniques, construction and manufacturing, a review of technical and fabrication challenges, a risk assessment and the conservation and management of the work. The plans also included the development of the ongoing public engagement program. The Commons is designed as a space for community meetings, and artist projects, and ongoing interaction among artists, visitors, and communities. The Commons Artist Project is a biennial exhibition series that provides a platform for artists developed in dialogue with MCA visitors. The projects provide direct opportunities to interact with the works and ideas of local and regional artists of national recognition. 

Evidence of outcome:​


  • strategic planning, implementation and project management resulted in a successful museum renovation

  • a successful visitor engagement zone within the built environment

  • museum increased its public free space and is working with 50% more local artists than previously

  • the shift of learning and programs to include greater community and artist engagement

Pedro Y Juana
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