Celebrating mentor, scholar, and curator Richard A. Born

last edited on Thu. October 1 2015

After 35 years as a curator at the Smart Museum of Art, Richard A. Born will retire at the end of December.

“It is hard to imagine the Smart without him,” said Anthony Hirschel, the Dana Feitler Director of the Smart Museum. “He is a fantastic colleague who has been integral to shaping the Smart’s collection and exhibition program.”

As a graduate student at the University of Chicago, Richard helped research and catalog the campus art collection, which became the seed of the Smart Museum’s holdings when it opened in 1974. After a stint as assistant director of the Renaissance Society, he became the Smart’s curator in 1980.

While Richard formally studied medieval art history as a graduate student, his curatorial work at the Smart, where for many years he was the sole curator, reveals an impressive breadth of expertise—German Expressionism, British modernism, ancient Chinese bronzes, contemporary printmaking, Korean art, modernist design—that is matched by an innate talent for designing beautiful and thoughtprovoking exhibitions. All told, he has curated well over 100 exhibitions.

Over the years, Richard has also served as a mentor to a great many UChicago students, guiding them through the intricacies of curatorial work and providing opportunities to study original works of art. A number of his former interns now work as curators in their own right, at civic museums and academic institutions across the country.

The Richard A. Born Fund

Honor Richard’s extraordinary legacy by contributing to the Richard A. Born Fund for Modern and Asian Art (PDF).

The fund celebrates and furthers Richard’s work building these two strengths of the Smart Museum’s collection. Contributions to the Fund will make possible new acquisitions and critical conservation work as well as other initiatives that activate the collections in unique ways and facilitate their use by faculty, students, and the public.

For more information, e-mail Bill Lynerd or call 773.834.1960.

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