The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago will continue its 40th Anniversary season with Objects and Voices: A Collection of Stories (February 12–June 21, 2015) showcasing 17 micro-exhibitions—curated by distinguished professors, young scholars, Smart alumni, and other collaborators—that offer a range of personal and professional perspectives and reveals the multiple ways one works with, learns from, and enjoys objects of art.  

A February 11 Objects and Voices Opening Reception will launch a series of opening festivities (all free and open to the public), including an "At The Threshold" after-work social hour featuring lively performances and creative conversation, Thursday and  February; and an “I Love Geometry” Family Day, offering Valentine arts and crafts projects inspired by works in the exhibition, Saturday, February 14.

“Throughout its 40-year history, the Smart has been shaped by deep collaborations with members of the University community and beyond,” states Anthony Hirschel, the Dana Feitler Director of the Smart Museum of Art. “Through a multitude of projects, Objects and 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.”

Anne Leonard, Smart Museum Curator and Associate Director of Academic Initiatives, added: “Every day people come into the Smart and engage with the art on view, bringing perspectives that are utterly distinctive, depending on who they are and the experiences they’ve had. For this exhibition, we thought it would be enormously worthwhile to capture some of these varied points of view and put them front and center, taking the place of the expected ‘institutional voice’ of the Museum. Based on the interpretations of our guest collaborators-as-curators, we don’t expect these works from the collection ever to look the same to us again.”

Objects and Voices takes over the entirety of the Smart Museum and mixes traditional and non-traditional presentations of the Smart’s collection of Modern, Asian, European, and Contemporary art. It is divided into a series of micro-exhibitions, each overseen by different guest curators. The vignettes reveal how objects and stories are intertwined, preserved, and re-invented at the Smart.

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 four powerful and provocative works created over the last 125 years in a variety of media; The Museum Classroom, in which a fifth-grade class from the Beasley Academic Center on the city’s South Side works with a teaching artist to create their own works of art in response to 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.  

A full list of projects and collaborators for the upcoming show can be found at

Opening festivities (all free and open to the public), include an opening reception, 7:30 – 9 p.m. on Wednesday, February 11.and an “At the Threshold” social hour, hosted by Chicago’s 500 Clown, and featuring lively performances and creative conversations, 5 – 7:30 p.m. on February 12. The Smart Museum also presents its monthly Family Day, themed “I Love Geometry” (February 14 from 1—4 p.m.), inviting children 4–12 (accompanied by an adult) to make cut paper collages and geometric paintings with triangles, circles, squares and Valentine’s Day hearts, all inspired by paintings by Jeremy Moon and Helen Saunders, as featured in Objects and Voices, Saturday February, 14, 1–4 pm. 

For more information about the upcoming exhibition and related programming, visit
Jean-Baptiste Regnault, Socrates Tearing Away Alcibiades from the Embrace of Sensuality, 1785, Oil on canvas. Smart Museum of Art, The University of Chicago, Purchase, The Paul and Miriam Kirkley Fund for Acquisitions, 2013.31.


Smart Museum Continuing 40th Anniversary Celebration with Objects and Voices: A Collection of Stories