Smart Museum: Collections Review Research Associate (2 positions)

Opportunity Description:


Reporting to the curators of the Smart Museum of Art, the Collections Review 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, but also encompass presentations in galleries, publications, and other spaces.  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.  Over the course of assembling this research, the Research Associates will work in close consultation with Smart Museum curators.  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. 

Opportunity term/commitment: These two opportunities will begin in Fall 2020 with the potential for a continuation during Winter and Spring 2021; undergraduate researchers should anticipate giving approximately 10 hours/week of time to this opportunity; given the dynamic nature of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is anticipated that most of these associates’ work will be done remotely (if things change and in-person/on-site work is required during the associates’ tenure, this will be discussed and worked out with the students based on their location, availability, and comfort with such work)

Additional notes: All Smart Undergraduate Research Associates will be expected to participate in the 2021 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 Associate’s 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.

Open to all majors in the Humanities and Social Science.


Preferred Skills: 

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

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 aaronwilder@uchicago.edu with the subject “Collections Review 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 skills you may bring, what you hope to learn and how this may impact your future studies and/or research in the field);
  • Current curriculum vitae (academically focused resume) with the names and contact details of two references; and,
  • A copy of your unofficial transcript.

Application Deadline: 

Thursday, October 22, 2020

Application Requirements: 

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