Curatorial Collections Research Undergraduate Research Associates (URAs) (2 positions)

Opportunity Description:

General Description: Reporting to the Curator of Global Contemporary Art, the Curatorial Collections Research Associates will research museum practices for permanent collections. Beginning in the fall quarter, Research Associates will survey various art museums (from encyclopedic to specialized and teaching museums) as well as build a bibliography of articles in order to understand the gamut of approaches art museums take to narrating and presenting their collections. This research will include close consideration of museums’ presentations of permanent collections on their websites and online exhibitions, in order to propose and develop a thematic object collection to be presented on the Smart Museum’s Collection Homepage. In the process, Research Associates will take stock of different methodologies (e.g. geographic, thematic, chronological, or medium-specific) for museums’ organizations of their permanent collections and pay special attention to presentations of artworks from historically marginalized areas (by non-Western, transnational, BIPOC and/or non-male artists). Bibliography materials will include different curatorial theories and museum studies articles on curating collections and/or exhibitions of artworks spanning a breadth of historical and geographic areas. In the spring, Research Associates will present their findings to the curatorial and registration staff and collectively discuss strategies for presenting the Smart’s collection on its website.


Hours: Applicants must be available to work approximately 8-10 hours per week during fall quarter (with the possibility to renew for winter and/or spring quarter). 


Additional notes: All Smart Undergraduate Research Associates will be expected to participate in the 2022 University of Chicago Undergraduate Research Symposium during the Spring Quarter and the annual research scholars curriculum organized by the College Center for Research & Fellowships. The selected student will receive more information from the College about these expectations separately.

Primary Responsibilities: 

The Research Associates’ primary responsibilities will be to build research files on museum practices for permanent collections, including detailed notes on peer institutions’ presentations of their collections and a bibliography of articles on museums’ approaches to collections.

Minimum Qualifications and/or Eligibility Requirements: 

Strong writing skills, demonstrated research ability, previous coursework in art history.

Preferred Skills: 

Previous coursework on museum studies and/or internship experience in museums.

Required Courses (Optional): 

At least one Art History course completed.

Recommended Training (Optional): 


Knowledge or skills gained from the experience: 

The Research Associate will gain in-depth knowledge of museums’ approaches to permanent collections, read articles relevant to museum studies, and gain exposure to multiple museum departments and the inter-workings of a university art museum.

Application Process: 

Email the following in *one* pdf. document to with the subject “Curatorial Collections Research URA Application”: 

  • 350-word statement of interest in the research opportunity (this is not a cover letter but should detail why you are interested in the research experience, what particular research and work-related skills you may bring, what you hope to learn and how this may impact your future studies, profession, and/or research in the field);
  • Current curriculum vitae or resume with the names and contact details of two references; and, 
  • A copy of your unofficial transcript.

Application Deadline: 

Sunday, September 12, 2021

Application Requirements: 

  • Submit CV
  • 350 Word Statement of Interest
  • Names of Two References
  • Unofficial Transcript
  • For more information on this opportunity, please contact:

    Aaron Wilder
    Faculty Title: 
    Academic Engagement Coordinator
    Smart Museum of Art