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King Day Festival: Tomorrow Is Today

Special Event


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  • Free with museum admission, no registration required
    Museum admission is free for Illinois residents on King Day.

An aerial view of a crowd of people watching a performance in the museum's Griffin Court.

Celebrate the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and create a vision for the future guided by artists and activists at work today. Chicago-based sound and visual artist Damon Locks presents a music performance with his Black Monument Ensemble. Move Me Soul dancers present a movement workshop, and young artists from the award-winning Rebirth/Reborn Poetry Ensemble share powerful spoken word pieces. Families can add their own messages of hope for the future to silkscreened postcards from multidisciplinary artist William Estrada’s Mobile Street Art Cart.

To ensure the widest possible participation at this special event, activities in the Ryan Learning Center are free for all, and Illinois residents receive free museum admission on King Day.

For more information about family programs, please call (312) 857-7161 or email For upcoming family programs, please visit the family programs calendar


Activity: Mobile Street Art Cart Project

10:30-3:00, STUDIO B— Add your own messages of hope for the future to silkscreened posters from multidisciplinary artist and community arts educator William Estrada.

Workshop: My Voice, My Choice, My Power

11:45 AND 1:15 (30 MINUTES), STUDIO A—Find new ways to explore the power of your actions and inactions in this interactive workshop with storyteller and activist Jasmin Cardenas.

Activity: Dreaming the Future

10:30–3:00, CLASSROOM 4—Learn about Dr. King’s dreams for the future and create an artwork that responds to his words using drawing and collage.

The Little Studio (Ages 5 and under)

10:30–5:00, CLASSROOM 5—Our youngest festival goers can plan for the future as they make art, play, and read stories in a space that is designed just for them.

The Family Room

10:30–5:00—We’re currently working to make the Ryan Learning Center an even more creative and participatory space for families, teens, and all museum visitors. Until the reopening in late spring 2020, find JourneyMaker, art making, and family activities in this temporary space.


Performance: Rebirth/Reborn Poetry Ensemble

11:00 AND 12:30 (30 MINUTES), CHICAGO STOCK EXCHANGE TRADING ROOM—Artists ages 9–14 from the awardwinning poetry slam team perform original work in tribute to Dr. King.

Performance and Movement Workshop: Move Me Soul

11:45 AND 1:15 (20 MINUTES), CHICAGO STOCK EXCHANGE TRADING ROOM—Feel empowered through creative expression! Enjoy a performance from Move Me Soul; then join dance educators and youth artists in a short workshop.

Performance: Damon Locks and Black Monument Ensemble

2:00–2:30, CHICAGO STOCK EXCHANGE TRADING ROOM—Chicago-based sound and visual artist Damon Locks presents a music performance with his Black Monument Ensemble. Created to address the shift toward an era when people’s civil rights are again in question, the ensemble presents an innovative intersection of gospel, jazz, and activism.

Activity: Making Magic

10:30-3:00, CHICAGO GALLERY—Create an assemblage or charm inspired by the work of artist Betye Saar.

Tour: What Makes a Hero?

12:00 AND 2:00 (30 MINUTES), MEET IN GRIFFIN COURT—This interactive tour invites kids and adults to look closely at art and share their ideas about that special something that makes a person a hero.

Teen-Led Gallery Experience: Let’s Just Talk

11:00, 12:00, AND 1:00 (30 MINUTES), GALLERIES 200, 295, AND 299—Participate in youth-led gallery activities and conversations that will help guide you from ideas to action.

Activity: Dreaming the Future

10:30-3:00, GALLERY 100—Learn about Dr. King’s dreams for the future and create an artwork that responds to his words using drawing and collage.

To request an accessibility accommodation for an Art Institute program, please call (312) 443-3680 or send an email to as far in advance as possible. 

Please see the museum’s Accessibility page for more information.


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