Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago

Named in memory of David and Alfred Smartthe publishers of Esquire, Coronet, and other magazinesthe Smart Museum of Art first opened to the public in 1974. The fledgling institution became the central repository for the University of Chicago’s fine arts collection, consolidating departmental holdings that date to the University’s founding in the 1890s. From the beginning, the Smart was guided by an educational mission focused on teaching and research, and by a commitment to making the arts accessible to the University community and wider public through our collection and special exhibitions.

In the past decades, the Smart’s broad-based collection has expanded significantly, both through major gifts and through the initiation of an active acquisitions program. Likewise, the scope of the Museum’s mission has grown substantially. Initially run from within the art history department, the Smart gained administrative autonomy in 1983 and adopted a new focus on public outreach, first within the campus community and then throughout the city. In the 1990s, the Museum began a seminal phase of programmatic expansion, launching an innovative educational outreach program for local public schools, as well as a faculty-curated exhibition program funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. On the eve of our thirtieth anniversary, the Smart earned accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums.

Today, as in the past, the Smart Museum serves as a leading voice on behalf of the arts, both on campus and in the community, and maintains its role as an energetic presence on the cultural landscape.

Place Categories: Art MuseumPlace Tags: collaborative, illustration, paintings and Photography

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