DARKROOM 2021 Raises Over $200K for MoCP

The Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago (MoCP) held DARKROOM, their annual benefit auction virtually on Thursday, June 10, 2021, bringing in over $200,000 to support the museum.

The Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago (MoCP) held DARKROOM, their annual benefit auction virtually onThursday, June 10, 2021, bringing in over $200,000 to support the museum. Funds raised at DARKROOM will provide critical support for the museum's exhibitions, collections, and community engagement initiatives for the 2021-2022 season.  

Leading up to the virtual event, DARKROOM sponsors and donors were invited to a VIP Auction Preview Party that took place on June 4, 2021, giving guests a first-look opportunity to see the auction pieces in person. As the city of Chicago safely reopens, this marks the first major event of its kind taking place at Columbia College Chicago since March of last year. Guests also enjoyed hors d'oeuvres and a champagne toast to celebrate the MoCP’s 45th anniversary.  
The virtual benefit and celebration took place one week later on June 10, 2021. The evening began with an all-vinyl DJ set from Joe Shanahan, founder and owner of Chicago’s iconic Metro and Smartbar music venues. The interactive DARKROOM livestream program followed, which was led by benefit co-chairs Joe Reinstein and Lincoln Schatz, alongside Natasha Egan, MoCP Executive Director; Karen Irvine, Chief Curator and Deputy Director; and Kristin Taylor, Curator of Academic Programs and Collections.

The virtual program also featured special appearances by auction artists Carmen Winant, Brian Ulrich, Tabitha Soren, Binh Danh, and Clarissa Bonet, as well as guest appearances by Gary Metzner, Head of Office, Sotheby’s, and  

Mark Kelly, Commissioner of Cultural Affairs and Special Events for the City of Chicago. The program is viewable here.   

"We are so thrilled to be supporting the museum in its mission to interrogate the artistic, cultural, and political roles of photography in our world today,” said Lincoln Schatz, DARKROOM co-chair. 

"The success of DARKROOM is a testament to the incredible work the MoCP does for the arts community in Chicago and beyond," added Joe Reinstein, DARKROOM co-chair.  
Other high points of the event included the virtual benefit auction hosted by Sotheby’s, which raised $98,500 and included artists such as celebrated contemporary and historical artists, featuring work by Dawoud Bey, Pete Souza, Jin Lee, Alfred Stieglitz, Edward J. Steichen, Kelli Connell, Victoria Sambunaris, Sandro Miller, Brian Ulrich, and Melissa Ann Pinney. 

Another special feature of the evening was the virtual cocktail party hosted on Wonder.me, a platform where people were able to move freely between groups, joined conversations, and enjoyed an energizing and fluid evening of conversation, networking, and virtual socializing. 

DARKROOM 2021 welcomed nearly 200 guests, who enjoyed a unique, virtual celebration of photography while supporting the Museum of Contemporary Photography, the only museum of its kind in the region. 

"Despite the challenges of moving our event online, DARKROOM 2021 was among our most successful benefit auction to date. Funds raised at DARKROOM will provide critical support for the museum in the year to come, which will allow us to continue our groundbreaking programs, exhibitions, and education initiatives," said Natasha Egan, MoCP Executive Director.



The MoCP is a nonprofit, tax-exempt organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums. The Museum is generously supported by Columbia College Chicago, the MoCP Advisory Board, Museum Council, individuals, private and corporate foundations, and government agencies including the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.


The Museum of Contemporary Photography at Columbia College Chicago is the world’s premier college art museum dedicated to photography.  As an international hub, the MoCP generates ideas and provokes dialogue among students, artists and diverse communities through groundbreaking exhibitions and programming. Now in its 45th exhibition season, the Museum of Contemporary Photography cultivates a deeper understanding of the artistic, cultural and political roles of photography in our world today.


Marissa Fox
Manager of Marketing & Community Engagement