Smart Museum transformed for 40th anniversary

The 2014-15 season brings two major exhibitions, an experimental gallery

University Communications

The Smart Museum of Art will celebrate its 40th anniversary year with two major exhibitions that will transform the entire museum and an experimental gallery in the heart of the Smart for an engaged art experience. Opening on Saturday, Sept. 27, “Carved, Cast, Crumpled: Sculpture All Ways” will take over all 8,800 square feet of gallery space with a stunning display of three-dimensional art from the museum’s collection.

The exhibition’s opening weekend also features live music as part of the Eighth Annual Hyde Park Jazz Festival. Two live jazz performances will take place in the museum courtyard on Saturday, Sept. 27—the Tito Carrillo Quartet at 1 p.m. and the Eric Schneider Quartet at 2:30 p.m. A community open house, Smart Fest, will take place on Sunday, Sept. 28.

As museum visitors listen to the sounds of Chicago-based jazz, they can view an array of sculptures ranging from ancient Chinese mingqi tomb figures to works by modern masters like Auguste Rodin, Jacques Lipchitz and Henry Moore.

The “Carved, Cast, Crumpled” exhibition celebrates and expands upon the museum’s inaugural 1974 exhibition of modern sculpture by juxtaposing works from a range of cultures and eras. Works that have never before been displayed at Smart will be on view, including a mixed media mobile by Alexander Calder, the mirrored Vermeer Box by June Leaf and the wood tower Monument to Martha by H. C. Westermann.

“Over the course of the season our 40th anniversary projects will transform the look and feel of the Smart, by showcasing the collection in new ways and by engaging with a host of collaborators to ask big questions about art,” said Anthony Hirschel, the Dana Feitler Director of the Smart Museum of Art.

Augmenting these exhibitions will be GalleryX, an innovative, temporary new gallery space in the center of the Smart Museum. Created by Range Design, this participatory hub will invite and encourage public discussions of art and ideas, and will house the Smart’s new Interpreters in Residence, Chicago’s 500 Clown. An adventurous theater company employing circus arts, improvisation and action-based performance, 500 Clown was commissioned to create The Art of Experience, a set of prompts that invite Smart Museum visitors to move from passive observers to active participants.

“The lessons we learn from the GalleryX initiative in particular will inform our future approaches to interpretation and visitor engagement,” said Hirschel, “and will help us to redefine the Smart’s role as a teaching museum in the 21st century."

Opening Feb. 12, 2015, “Objects and Voices: A Collection of Stories” will showcase 17 micro-exhibitions by guest curators with a relationship to the Smart—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.

Guest curators like Keith Hartley, chief curator of the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, and Kerry James Marshall, artist and MacArthur fellow, will share their expertise as curators in a series that explores such themes as transmission of knowledge through art and the role of audiences.

For more information on Smart Museum’s 40th anniversary and upcoming events, please visit


Smart Museum is joining Contempo, Court Theatre, Renaissance Society and Rockefeller Chapel’s Bells of Summer this year in celebrating their respective landmark anniversaries as part of Artennial—a series of events, exhibitions and performances acknowledging the tradition of artistic excellence at the University of Chicago. Together, the arts organizations listed have contributed 300 years of groundbreaking work to the city of Chicago and the wider arts community. For more information, please visit