Year-Round Series

Upcoming Programs

Thursday, January 21

Video still: twentyfourbyseven (7 mins, video, calligraphy, text, animation), 2020

/Dialogues: Perspectives on Water — Land Rights, Accessibility, and Histories

Thursday, January 21, 2021 | 11AM CST

Virtual Program

Panelists | Oscar Tuazon (Artist | Luhring Augustine), Raqs Media Collective (Artists; Curators, Yokoyama Triennial), Carolina Caycedo (Artist | Instituto de Visión), and moderated by Srimoyee Mitra  (Curator). 

This panel invites artists who have initiated further investigations into the histories of water in terms of land rights and clean water accessibility in lakes, rivers, and oceans, to explore the cultural ways in which water bridges communities both locally and globally. Highlighting the often-unseen political history that water and its major infrastructures has, this discussion will question how different sociopolitical backgrounds affect one’s relationship to sustainability. The conversation, moderated by past Curatorial Forum participant Srimoyee Mitra, will address the long lineage art has played within narratives surrounding environmental activism.

Presented in partnership with the Joyce Foundation and Art in America


Video still. Thanks For Hosting Us, We Are Healing our Broken Bodies / Gracias por hospedarnos. Estamos sanando nuestros cuerpos rotos, 2019. By Carolina Caycedo.

Film Screening: Carolina Caycedo—Thanks For Hosting Us, We Are Healing our Broken Bodies / Gracias por hospedarnos. Estamos sanando nuestros cuerpos rotos, 2019.

Thursday, Janurary 21, 2021 | 1PM CST

Virtual Screening

Introduction by MCA Chicago Curator Carla Acevedo-Yates

With: Marina Magalhaes (Choreography), José Richard Aviles, Tatiana Zamir, Belle Alvarez, Bianca Medina, Isis Avalos, Patty Huerta, Celeste Tavares.

Human bodies appear incomplete, divided and fractured by water and fabrics as a way to address the cementing, impoundment, and fragmenting of local streams and rivers. The body parts search for each other in an attempt to reconstitute as a collective body. Towards the end of the film a complete human body is revealed, suggesting that if we dismantle infrastructure that divides and splinter bodies of water, riparian ecosystems might stand a chance to become whole again. Filmed on location in the San Gabriel River and the Wanaawna (Santa Ana) river mouth, this inaugural and site specific activation of the Water Portraits series is the first step towards building a healing relationship with the land and the waters of the unceded Tongva and Acjachemen territories, known by many as Orange County. We are grateful to our human and natural indigenous hosts who have sustained us, despite being submitted to violent processes of colonization and extraction. Commissioned by the Orange County Museum of Art.

Regina Agu, Passage, 2019, Digital Print on Fabric, Installation view at New Orleans Museum of Art (November 22, 2019 - February 9, 2020), Photography by Seth Boonchai © Regina Agu

Curatorial Forum Presents | Weathering Regional Landscapes

Thursday, January 21, 2021 | 3PM CST

Virtual Program

Panelists | Katie A. Pfohl (Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art | New Orleans Museum of Art), Ryan N. Dennis (Chief Curator and Artistic Director | Center for Art and Public Exchange, Mississippi Museum of Art), Regina Agu (Artist), Christina Molina (Associate Professor of New Media + Animation | Southeastern Louisiana University), Willie Wright (Assistant Professor of Geography | Rutgers University).  

Focusing on several recent curatorial and artistic projects anchored in the Gulf Coast—home to some of the fastest disappearing land masses in the world—this conversation considers how art can encourage new forms of environmental awareness, and invite new thinking about culture and community. How can art shed light on urgent local issues, while also looking beyond region, nation and country to show us the way that climate connects us all? How can art inspire us to think about the very idea of environment differently, dissolving the boundaries between local and global, between center and periphery, to locate new sources of solidarity and strength?

Presented in partnership with Independent Curators International (ICI)

Friday,  January 22

MOCA: LA Green Plaza

/Dialogues | Practices of Conservation — Exhibition and Environmental Impact

Friday, January 22, 2021 | 11 AM CST

Virtual Program

Panelists | Haley Mellin (Artist; Co-Founder MOCA LA Environmental Council), Mika Rottenberg (MOCA LA Environmental Council Member), Laura Lupton (Co-Founder | Galleries Commit), Jodi Roberts (Co-Founder | Art + Climate Action), and moderated by Kate Sierzputowski (Director of Programming | EXPO CHICAGO). 

As the pandemic has forced institutions, galleries, and artists to reconsider their methods of operation, in October 2020 The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) in Los Angeles announced the creation of an Environmental Council, the first for a major art museum in the United States. A range of arts-based resources, councils, and coalitions have continued to develop throughout the past year, advancing their focus on sustainable, climate-aware practices of artists and institutions, advocacy for carbon neutrality and reduction, and environmental justice-oriented programming and exhibitions within the cultural sector. In this panel, artists and co-founders of MOCA's Environmental Council, Art to Acres, Culture Declares Emergency, Art+Climate Action and Galleries Commit will discuss specific aims, such as reducing carbon emissions by 50% by 2030 in line with the Paris Agreement and adoption of zero-waste practices. How can the art world reduce emissions and engage more sustainable methods in an adaptive manner that supports engagement from across the art world? This panel is designed to connect the audience with considerations and resources for sustainable practices at a studio, exhibition, and institutional level.

Presented in partnership with MOCA Los Angeles and ARTnews


Credits: Sean Raspet, δ, 2019–ongoing. Irradiated seeds. Image courtesy of the artist, Jessica Silverman Gallery, San Francisco, Bridget Donohue, New York, and Société, Berlin.

/Dialogues | On Viruses —Critical Theories and Contagion

Friday, January 22, 2021 | 1PM CST

Virtual Program

Panelists | Sean Raspet (Artist), Hương Ngô (Artist), Elizabeth Hénaff (Computational Biologist; Artist), and moderated by Stephanie Cristello (Editor and Chief | THE SEEN). 

Artists and writers discuss the implications of viruses as a metaphor and a reality in our current moment. How can we learn from the behavior of viral organisms (the microscopic) to rethink how we approach societal structures (the macroscopic)? 

Presented in partnership with Ocula

Desert X Landscape by Lance Gerber

/Dialogues | Desert as Place and Idea: Planning Desert X 2021

Friday, Janurary 22, 2021 | 3PM CST

Virtual Program

Panelists | César García-Alverez (Co-curator, Desert X 2021), Xaviera Simmons (Artist), Kim Stringfellow (Artist), and Neville Wakefield (Artistic Director, Desert X 2021). 

The desert is a state of place, and a state of mind—and as such must be acknowledged beyond the privileged mythologies of desolate landscapes and boundless possibilities. The third edition of Desert X encourages connections between artworks and the specific realities of California’s Coachella Valley, the histories that forged its communities, and the social and environmental dynamics that guide our radically-changing world. Reflecting upon the forthcoming site-specific outdoor exhibition, Desert X artists and curators discuss how they’ve navigated these concerns in their projects.

Presented in partnership with artnet


Saturday, January 23

Floating Museum, River Assembly, 2017, barge, crates, steel, LED Screen, generator, foam, aqua resin, paint, hardware, group exhibition including artists and organizations, including Founder: Founder was milled from foam using a 3D-scan of Erik Blome's sculpture of Jean Baptiste Point Du Sable, installed on Michigan Avenue in 2009. photo credit: Floating Museum

/Dialogues | Sustainable Societies for the Future

Saturday, January 23, 2021 | 11 AM CST

Virtual Program

Panelists | Kirse Junge-Stevnsborg (Artist), Floating Museum (Jeremiah Hulsebos-Spofford and Faheem Majeed) (Artist Collective), and Hesselholdt & Mejlvang (Artists), with an introduction by Luise Faurschou (Founder & Director | ART 2030). 

In the face of challenges such as climate change, migration, and the world’s growing population, how can we accumulate change that inspires collectiveness and social engagement for a better future together? Director of the Malmö Art Museum Kirse Junge-Stevnsborg will speak to members from The Floating Museum and Hesselholdt & Mejlvang who are involved in the exhibition Sustainable Societies for the Future about how these united regions are approaching the comprehensive sustainability.

Presented in partnership with Art 2030, Danish Arts in Chicago, the Consulate General of Denmark in New York, NRDC, and Ocula


Video still. Toril Johannesen & Marjolijn Dijkman, Reclaiming Vision, 2018. 

Film Screening | Toril Johannesen & Marjolijn Dijkman, Reclaiming Vision, 2018 

Saturday, January 23, 2021 | 1PM CST

Virtual Screening

Toril Johannesen & Marojoljin Dijkman (Artists and Filmmakers)

Captured through a light microscope, ‘Reclaiming Vision’ features a diverse cast of microorganisms, sampled from the brackish waters of the inner Oslo Fjord, alongside algae, cultivated at the University of Oslo. The film reveals various processes in the water that are hidden to the naked human eye. By investigating the brackish water, its inhabitants, its properties, and the traces left by human activities, the film is a reflection upon the relationship we humans have with our surroundings, especially through what we cannot see. The film is inspired by real and historical events. The scenes have been staged by the artists, taking the presumption of reality that characterizes nature documentaries into the realm of fiction film. Any resemblance to scientific research is coincidental. Starting from the assertion that looking evolved from the sea – eyes, in fact, evolved from marine algae – ‘Reclaiming Vision' takes the viewer on a journey through various ways of looking at, relating to and influencing nature. While ‘Reclaiming Vision’ reveals life on the smallest scale, its scope relates to global phenomena.

Presented in partnership with Danish Arts in Chicago and the Consulate General of Denmark in New York                     


Past Programs

Raqs Media Collective, video still from Why do they call the answer to a question, a solution? (12 mins, video, spoken word), 2020.

Panel: Raqs Media Collective in Conversation

December 3, 2020 | 10:00AM CDT

Virtual Program 

Panelists | Raqs Media Collective (Artists), Gunalan Nadarajan (Curator and Dean of Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design), and Srimoyee Mitra (Director, Stamps Gallery).

Following the world premiere of two new videos commissioned by Stamps Gallery, twentyfourbyseven (7 mins, video, calligraphy, text, animation), 2020 and Why do they call the answer to a question, a solution? (12 mins, video, spoken word), 2020, Raqs Media Collective will reflect on the process of creating The Pandemic Circle after the predicament of quarantine and seclusion caused by the COVID–19 pandemic gripped contemporary life across the globe. The Pandemic Circle includes 31 Days (18 minutes, video, calligraphy, text), 2020, the first video in the series that was released in the summer of 2020. The renowned collective will be in conversation with Gunalan Nadarajan, curator and Dean of Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design. Introduction by Srimoyee Mitra, Director, Stamps Gallery.

For captions, please select the closed captioning button on the bottom right of the video screen. If there are any issues, please find live captioning here.

This program is co-presented with Stamps Gallery. This program is supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.

Video still: twentyfourbyseven (7 mins, video, calligraphy, text, animation), 2020

The Pandemic Circle by Raqs Media Collective

December 1, 2020 | 12:00AM

Virtual Program 

Raqs Media Collective. Commissioned by Stamps Gallery, Penny W. Stamps School of Art & Design, and in partnership with EXPO CHICAGO on December 1, 2020. Curated by Srimoyee Mitra.

Raqs Media Collective’s two new films twentyfourbyseven (7 mins, video, calligraphy, text, animation), 2020 and Why do they call the answer to a question, a solution? (12 minutes, video, spoken word), 2020 complete the Pandemic Circle that they embarked upon with their recent video 31 Days. Together, this suite of poignant and poetic videos grapple with the pervasive and dispersed impact on daily routines and relationships with one another, and beyond, in the age of the Coronavirus. In the summer of 2020, Raqs Media Collective released 31 Days (18 minutes, video, calligraphy, text) three months after the predicament of quarantine and seclusion caused by the Covid-19 pandemic gripped contemporary life across the globe. Offering a meditation on a restless world in a quiet time, 31 Days explored the weight and ambivalence of loss through haunting repetition, things gleaned from the corner of one’s eye, and fragments seen, heard and sensed between the three members of Raqs. The new works deepen their inquiry into the tensions of time and place. 31 Daysembodied a sense of timelessness, as well as making place ambiguous; a new non-place (in cyberspace) emerges as if the geographical location is irrelevant.

Both time and place remain key as they inform world views, IP addresses, and perspectives beyond 31 Days. It has been nine months and counting since “work from home” has become status quo. While the third wave of Covid-19 spreads throughout the world, Raqs continues the conversation and lucid dreaming with two new highly anticipated works: twentyfourbyseven (6 minutes) and Why do they call the answer to a question, a solution? (12 minutes).

Image courtesy of Claudia Wieser.

Panel Discussion: Claudia Wieser in Conversation

Thursday, November 19, 2020 | 12:00PM

Virtual Program 

During this live-streamed discussion, Claudia Wieser reflects on the myriad influences that inform her work—from the democratic stage of ancient Roman forums to the esoteric principles of Bauhaus craftsmanship—to produce immersive spatial installations. In conversation with Wieser are Jennifer Carty, Associate Curator of Modern & Contemporary Art at the Smart Museum, and Rachel Adams, Chief Curator and Director of Programs at the Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. The program is moderated by Christine Mehring, Adjunct Curator at the Smart Museum and Mary L. Block Professor of Art History and the College at the University of Chicago. This discussion is presented in conjunction with Claudia Wieser: Generations on view at the Smart Museum of Art through December 13, 2020

EXPO CHICAGO 2019. Image courtesy of Justin Barbin. 


Friday, September 25–Sunday, September 27, 2020

Virtual Initiative

Highlighting Chicago-based exhibitions, curatorial projects, and artist programs from leading artists, galleries, and institutions, EXHIBITION Weekend is a digital initiative that will activate Chicago's creative communities andprovide international audiences the opportunity to engage directly through virtual tours, conversations, and an online viewing experience, developed in collaboration with Hook. Chicago audiences will also have select opportunities to view exhibitions in-person (by appointment) aligning with EXHIBITION Weekend. Safety precautions will include limited capacities, social distancing, mask requirements, and non-invasive temperature checks. See more details here.

Art Funders Forum: Remake the Model—Leadership and Ethics in the Arts

Friday, September 25, 2020 | 2:00PM CDT 

Virtual Program

Panelists | Deborah Fisher (A Blade of Grass), Frederick Janka (Carolyn Glasoe Bailey Foundation), and Lori Fogarty (Oakland Museum of California). Moderated by Melissa Cowley Wolf (Art Funders Forum, MCW Projects).

Presented in partnership with EXPO CHICAGO, the Arts Funders Forum (AFF) hosts this interactive virtual conversation as part of the Remake the Model series, examining how art funders can advance ethical leadership throughout the cultural sector and beyond. As the industry continues to evaluate its commitment to social justice, broaden its audiences, and develop new funding models to survive through the crises of 2020, how can art funders drive positive change at the board level and beyond?

Facility, Nick Cave and Bob Faust. 2019 Limited-Edition Print.Limited Edition of 200. 9 color lithograph. 30 in x 21 in, 76.2 x 53.3 cm. Signed by the artist.

EXHIBITION WEEKEND KICK-OFF: Nick Cave & Art for Justice

Thursday, September 24, 2020 | 1:00PM CDT 

Virtual Program

Nick Cave and Bob Faust join Quintin Williams of Heartland Alliance for Human Needs & Human Rights and Gabrielle Lyon of Illinois Humanities for a conversation exploring concepts addressed in the limited-edition print designed by Nick Cave and Bob Faust, a Facility Art/Work collaboration. With an introduction by philanthropist Agnes Gund, the conversation is co-hosted with EXPO CHICAGO Marketplace Partner Artsy and presented with media partner Ocula. Proceeds from the sale of the limited-edition print will benefit the Art for Justice Fund, Nick Cave and Bob Faust’s Facility Foundation, and directly support EXPO CHICAGO’s Curatorial Initiatives 2020 fall programming, presented in partnership with Independent Curators International (ICI). The limited-edition print can be purchased here


In Conversation | Nate Young on Narrative & Voids

Friday, April 24, 2020 | 4:00 PM

Online webinar

Nate Young (Artist, Monique Meloche) and Stephanie Cristello (Artistic Director, EXPO CHICAGO | Editor-in-Chief, THE SEEN). 

Through his new body of work presented at moniquemeloche, the conceptual artist Nate Young mines his own family archives to explore and question the nature of identification, history, and the significance of ritual as a means to instill authority. Stephanie Cristello will join Young as he talks through the process behind his recently-mounted solo exhibition Transcendence of Time and presents a preview of the pieces to be included in his upcoming two-person exhibition A Tale of Today at the Driehaus Museum. Young and Cristello will discuss how Young’s narrative-based sculpture investigates the illusion of time, and how its nature seems more malleable than ever in the current climate.

Melissa Ann Pinney, Untitled. 2018. Photography.

Identity and Youth | CPS Lives

Wednesday, September 11, 2019 | 6:00 PM

Ogden Elementary School | 24 W Walton St, Chicago, IL

Cecil McDonald Jr. (Artist, CPS Lives) and Melissa Ann Pinney (Artist, CPS Lives). Moderated by Jacqueline Terrassa (Woman's Board Endowed Chair of Learning and Public Engagement, Art Institute of Chicago)

EXPO CHICAGO and CPS Lives present a discussion featuring artists Cecil McDonald Jr. and Melissa Ann Pinney, two residents within the CPS Lives program whose work explores intersections of representation as part of their ongoing projects. CPS Lives, a non-profit founded in 2018, pairs a Chicago-based artists with a Chicago Public School during an academic school year to produce a collaborative project between resident and students. The two artists will discuss their residencies and their results—images that explore identity and youth—that blur the lines between the artistic and the academic.

Paul Mpagi Sepuya. Photo: Chris Bauer.

/Dialogues: Paul Mpagi Sepuya

Thursday, June 27, 2019 | 6:30 PM

Contemporary Art Museum (CAM) St. Louis  | 3750 Washington Blvd, St. Louis, MO

Los Angeles-based artist Paul Mpagi Sepuya discusses his practice and the work on view in his first major museum survey, Paul Mpagi Sepuya, on view at CAM through August 18. Through his portraiture, Sepuya challenges the history of photography and deconstructs traditional portraiture by way of layering, fragmentation, mirror imagery, and the perspective of the black, queer gaze.

This Regional /Dialogues panel is presented in partnership with EXPO CHICAGO and CAM St. Louis. Art in America is the program Media Sponsor.


Learn more.

Install view, Unfurled: Supports/Surfaces, 1966-1976 at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, 2019. Courtesy of MOCAD. Photo: Tim Johnson.


Thursday, April 4, 2019 | 6:00pm

MOCAD Detroit | 4454 Woodward Ave, Detroit, MI

Wallace Whitney (Artist | Ceysson & Bénétière), curator of Unfurled: Supports/Surfaces 1966–1976, in conversation with Rachel Stella and Raphael Rubinstein. Stella is an independent scholar based in Paris, France and a contributor to Supports/Surfaces, the first-ever English publication about the most under-recognized French art movement of the 20th century. Raphael Rubinstein is a New York-based poet and art critic whose numerous books include Polychrome Profusion: Selected Art Criticism 1990–2002The Afterglow of Minor Pop Masterpieces and The Miraculous. He edited the anthology Critical Mess: Art Critics on the State of their Practice and is widely known for his articles on provisional painting. Rubinstein has lectured and written extensively on the Supports/Surfaces movement. 

This /Dialogues panel is presented in partnership with EXPO CHICAGO, in alignment with the exhibition Supports/Surfaces 1966-1976, on view from February 1–April 21, 2019. Art in America is the program Media Sponsor.

Courtesy Snarkitecture.

Talk: Snarkitecture — The Beach Chicago

Thursday, January 17, 2019 | 6:00pm

Graham Foundation | 4 W Burton Pl, Chicago, IL

Join the Graham Foundation, in partnership with EXPO CHICAGO and Navy Pier, for a talk by Alex Mustonen and Benjamin Porto of the New York-based collaborative design practice Snarkitecture. This event will take place in advance of the unveiling of The Beach, a large-scale interactive installation that will open to the public on Saturday, January 19 in the Aon Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier. Snarkitecture’s work focuses on the reinterpretation of everyday materials within a conceptual approach to create unexpected engagements with our surroundings — centered on the importance of experience, this premise extends to The Beach, an all-white ocean of over one million recyclable, antimicrobial plastic balls.

Following this event, the Graham Foundation Bookshop will host a book signing of Snarkitecture’s recent catalogue, published by Phaidon.

Image courtesy Shani Crowe and the Dimmensions of Citizenship organizers.

Biennale Architettura 2018 – U.S. Pavilion

Sunday, May 27, 2018 | 10:00–11:30am

U.S. Pavilion at the 16. International Architecture Exhibition

10:45–11:30am | /Dialogues: Dimensions of Citizenship
Panelists | Amanda Williams (Chicago-based Artist and Architect, participant in the U.S. Pavilion), Andres L. Hernandez (Chicago-based Artist and Architect, participant in the U.S. Pavilion) and Shani Crowe (Chicago-based Artist). Moderated by EXPO CHICAGO Director of Programming and Editor-in-Chief of THE SEEN, Stephanie Cristello

Tackling questions of citizenship status, gender and race at the intersection of history, theory and practice of art and architecture, this panel will explore the unique ways in which black women have historically navigated and shaped space to advance their position in American society. Highlighting the historical figures of Harriet Jacobs and Harriet Tubman as muses, this conversation will trace the impact of American history on Williams and Hernandez’s practice, complemented by a performative element by Shani Crowe, preceding the conversation. Addressing the fraught social-spatial conditions of the African-American experience, this panel will take place in proximity to a new commission by Williams and Hernandez in the courtyard of the U.S. Pavilion, entitled Thrival Geographies (In My Mind I See a Line). Weaving up the portico of the main entrance, and stretching beyond the rear terrain of the Pavilion building, the piece evokes the clandestine routes charted and navigated by African-Americans seeking both temporary escape and permanent freedom from the institution of slavery.

Presented in partnership with the commissioners of the U.S. Pavilion, the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago.

Alejandro Cesarco, Vanitas (From Remorse to Regret) (Detail), 2017. 
Courtesy of the Artist and Tanya Leighton, Berlin.

THE SEEN | Stephanie Cristello in Conversation with Alejandro Cesarco

Thursday, January 18, 2018 | 6:30–8:00pm

ICI Curatorial Hub | 401 Broadway, Suite 1620, New York, NY

Join Editor-in-Chief of THE SEEN Stephanie Cristello as part of this interview with New York-based artist Alejandro Cesarco, in advance of their text being published in Issue 06 (Spring / Summer 2018). 

This conversation will align with Cesarco’s most recent exhibition, entitled Song, which is on view at The Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago through January 28, 2018. This discussion will explore the artist’s relationship to different narrative strategies and their relationship to form, affect, and memory. Presented in partnernship with Independent Curators International. 

Images: Judy Chicago, 6 AM: Cat Alarm Clocks from Kitty City (detail), 2000, watercolor on Arches, 22 x 30 in. © Judy Chicago. Photo: Donald Woodman. Image courtesy of Jessica Silverman Gallery. 

In Conversation: Judy Chicago and Jayna Zweiman

Saturday, November 4, 2017 | 6:00–8:00pm

Gordon Parks Arts Hall | 5815 S Kimbark Ave, Chicago, IL

Judy Chicago (Artist, Jessica Silverman Gallery) in conversation with Jayna Zweiman (Co-Founder of Pussyhat Project) and Alison Gass (Dana Feitler Director of Smart Museum of Art).

The two artists will explore how to political activism is manifested in various forms, particularly in community-based projects like Welcome Blanket that confront contemporary social and political issues. The talk is moderated by Alison Gass, Dana Feitler Director of the Smart Museum. Presented by the Smart Museum of Art in partnership with EXPO CHICAGO.

Obama Presidential Center, designed by Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects | Partners and Interactive Design Architects. 

Obama Presidential Center Panel 

Saturday, October 14, 2017 | 2:00–3:00pm

DuSable Museum of African American History | 740 E 56th Pl, Chicago, IL

Dr. Louise Bernard (Director, Museum of the Obama Presidential Center), Amanda Williams, and Andres Luis Hernandez (Artists and Members of the Exhibition Design Team, Obama Presidential Center). Moderated by Monica Chadha (Founder, Civic Projects; Member of the Exhibition Design Team, Obama Presidential Center).

Join newly appointed Director of the Museum of the Obama Presidential Center, Dr. Louise Bernard, along with interdisciplinary members of the Exhibition Design Team, for this conversation about the work of the Obama Presidential Center and the Museum's role as an innovative social and cultural institution.