Objects & Voices: A Collection of Stories


Among highlights are:

– Exploring death and the body with guest curator Kerry James Marshall 

– Interpretation of artwork by a Chicao Public Schools fifth-grade class

– Bringing art into the classroom with UChicago professors

– Questioning the authenticity & attribution of a Kandinsky painting


The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago, 5550 S. Greenwood Avenue, continues its 40th Anniversary season with Objects & Voices: A Collection of Stories (February 12–June 14, 2015) showcasing 17 micro-exhibitions by 20 guest curators—distinguished professors, curators, young scholars, and Smart alumni—offering their own personal and professional perspectives on works in the collection, to reveal how objects and stories are intertwined.

“Throughout its 40 year history, the Smart has been shaped by deep collaborations with members of the University community and beyond,” says Anthony Hirschel, the Dana Feitler Director of the Smart Museum of Art. “Through a multitude of projects, Objects & Voices reveals how these rich, diverse collaborations open up new perspectives and tell compelling stories — showing how we all can connect with and be inspired by our experiences with art.”

Objects & Voices aims to reveal the multiple ways one works with, learns from, and enjoys objects of art. This Smart collection-based exhibition is divided into a series of small thematic presentations, each overseen by different guest curators. The vignettes reveal the diverse perspectives, passions, and expertise of their curators while raising bigger questions about the interpretation of creative and cultural objects, the role of audiences, and the transmission of knowledge through art. This 40th Anniversary exhibition takes over the entirety of the Smart Museum—permanent collection and special exhibition galleries alike—and mixes traditional and non-traditional presentations of the Smart’s collection of Modern, Asian, European, and Contemporary art.

Among the mini-exhibition highlights is The Naked and the Dead, curated by Chicago artist Kerry James Marshall, which considers representations of death and the body through a selection of works created over the last 125 years in a variety of media; Visual Elements of Narrative, in which a fifth-grade class from the Beasley Academic Center on the city’s South Side works with a teaching artist to develop new ways to present and interpret four objects in the Smart’s collection; War Portfolios in Teaching, in which a UChicago professor reflects on using powerful works of art in the classroom; and Paintings and Evidence, organized by two UChicago graduate students, which considers the material and documentary evidence—inscriptions, labels, condition, provenance, exhibition history—that art historians bring to bear in authenticating and studying works of art, including a lush painting attributed to Wassily Kandinsky on view for the first time at the Smart.


These and other projects illustrate how objects and stories are intertwined, preserved, re-interpreted, discovered, and re-invented at a university art museum like the Smart. A full list of projects and collaborators can be found at smartmuseum.uchicago.edu/exhibitions/objects-and-voices-collection-of-stories.

Objects & Voices is the second of two Museum-wide projects commemorating the Smart’s 40th Anniversary; the first, Carved, Cast, Crumpled: Sculpture All Ways encompasses some 174 pieces of three-dimensional artwork and a handful of drawings by sculptors, and is currently on display through December 21, 2014.

Augmenting Objects & Voices is GalleryX, a flexible space installed in the center of the Museum throughout the 40th Anniversary year. Developed by Range Design, this participatory hub invites and encourages public discussions of art and ideas, and houses The Art of Experience: the Smart Museum, designed by the Smart’s Interpreters in Residence, 500 Clown.

About the Smart Museum of Art
The Smart Museum of Art offers an intimate environment for bold encounters with art. Both fueling and expressing the creative energy of the University of Chicago, the Smart opens the world to boundary-breaking art and ideas through innovative special exhibitions, ever-changing programs, and distinctive collections.

The Smart Museum is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Thursday evenings until 8 p.m. Galleries are closed Mondays and holidays. The Smart is open to all and admission is always free.

The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago opens the world through art and ideas.