Smart Museum: Museum Affairs Research Associate

Opportunity Description:


Reporting to the Manager for Museum Affairs at the Smart Museum of Art, the Smart Undergraduate Research Associate will provide academic research and curatorial support in two key object-based operational elements of a museum: acquisitions and loans.

Gaining in-depth experience in acquisitions and loans, we seek an Undergraduate Research Associate that can aid with a variety of tasks related to research and collections development. Research scope can include, but is not limited to, a deep understanding of the museum’s collection and its history through the archive and internal collections database, interviews with staff, analyzing information from academic and online communities, industry best practices, to aid in the development of a proposal for guidelines and standards that support the Smart Museum’s collections. This position will also provide curatorial support for the museum’s permanent collection as assigned.

This role dovetails with other Research Associate positions at the Smart Museum which support critical work in creating recommendations for the Museum’s Registration and Curatorial team and building upon goals to create a more inclusive and equitable collection and collections database.

This opportunity 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 the associate’s work will be done remotely (if things change and in-person/on-site work is required during the associate’s tenure, this will be discussed and worked out with the student 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: 

Primary responsibilities include, working closely with the Manager of Museum Affairs, curatorial, and registration teams to study the Smart Museum’s archives, conduct industry research, and liaise with multiple museum departments, resulting in the development of a proposal for best practices and standards, among others. 

Minimum Qualifications and/or Eligibility Requirements: 

Research and writing skills, some coursework in Art History.

Open to all majors in the Humanities and Social sciences, although this opportunity may best serve students in Art History.


Preferred Skills: 

Prior experience with databases is helpful but not required.

Knowledge or skills gained from the experience: 

The Research Associate will gain in-depth knowledge of the Museum Affairs division 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 “Museum Affairs 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