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CHICAGO On October 30, the Museum of Contemporary Art raised $2.8 million at its art auction, making it the most lucrative event in the institution's history. Also historical: The 550-guest affair, which included cocktails, dinner, and silent and live auctions, took place at the museum for the first time.
“It's all about timing,” said event manager Hillary Hanus of Hanus Consulting. “The museum was between installations,” which made the galleries available for hanging auction works. During the cocktail reception, guests checked out the art and bid on pieces using handheld devices, and then headed to a live auction in the dinner tent. Spanning the back lawn, the tent was decked in Heffernan Morgan Ronsley's all-cardboard decor.
“I was inspired by a simple delivery of cardboard that came to our shop one day,” said designer Bill Heffernan. “I thought how wonderful [the material] looked just like that, as is so often the case with the lowly everyday objects around us.”
Describing the museum as an institution that “always finds new way of looking at things, including their events,” Heffernan determined that the live auction's setting “should be like entering the undiscovered world of a very creative cardboard box.”
In the tent, Heffernan's floors, walls, tables, and food risers were all constructed out of cardboard. He also used the material to cover lighting, staging, and the podium. Cardboard chandeliers and sculptures served as accent pieces. The environment “redefined party decor by rethinking all surfaces and elements, and paring them down to what's really needed,” Heffernan said.