Smart Museum: Transpacific Exhibition Research Associate

Opportunity Description:


Reporting to the Curator of Global Contemporary Art at the Smart Museum of Art, the Smart Undergraduate Research Associate will provide academic research and curatorial support for a future exhibition project Transpacific. Artistic exchanges across the Pacific Ocean have been sustained, multilateral, and critically influential for over 500 years. The Transpacific: Charting Artistic Exchanges between Asia and the Americas (working title), will open new possibilities for studying these connections. From the abstract paintings of Japanese artists living in Brazil to Chinese artists studying Mexican Muralism to American artists repeated travels in Japan, the exhibition will feature art objects that provide especially eloquent evidence of communication, contact, and interconnection across the Pacific region, allowing us to draw new parallels between historical and modern globalisms and to contribute to a new field of historical inquiry – Transpacific studies.  

Gaining in-depth experience of the early exhibition process, the Smart Undergraduate Research Associate for Transpacific duties will include, conducting research on artists and artworks, liaising with multiple museum departments, among others. This position will also provide curatorial support for the museum’s permanent collection and additional exhibitions as assigned.

Opportunity term/commitment: 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). Additionally, there will be research meetings with a larger team every other week during the fall quarter. The time of these meetings will be flexible based on the selected student’s schedule. The student will get the most out of this research experience if they are able to join these meetings.

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: 

Principle responsibilities include working closely with the Curator of Global Contemporary Art and exhibitions team to conduct artist and object research, liaise with multiple museum departments, among others.

Minimum Qualifications and/or Eligibility Requirements: 

Strong writing skills. Demonstrated research ability. Previous coursework in art history, Asian studies, Latin American studies, or history.

Open to all majors in the Humanities and Social Sciences.


Preferred Skills: 

Asian or Latin American language proficiency or fluency preferred.

Knowledge or skills gained from the experience: 

The Research Associate will gain in-depth knowledge of the exhibitions process and inter-workings of a university art museum.

Application Process: 

Email the following in *one* pdf. document to aaronwilder@uchicago.edu with the subject “Transpacific 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