Academic Exhibitions

Special exhibitions that support teaching and research

The Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry oversees the curation of exhibitions at the Smart Museum that support the teaching of UChicago courses or result from the teaching of courses about curatorial practice.

Both varieties of exhibitions are intended to enable faculty to meet course goals for their students that cannot otherwise be met through class visits to view our collection in the study room. Ambitious curricular programming goals, the inclusion of artworks from outside collections, and large class sizes are a few common reasons for mounting artworks for extended display in a gallery.

Current exhibition projects are in development with faculty in the fields of History, Medicine, Anthropology, Art History, English, and the Visual Arts.

To begin a conversation about organizing an exhibition for teaching purposes, please contact

Case studies

Smart to the Core (ongoing)
In winter 2019, the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry launched Smart to the Core, an ambitious new exhibition series designed to expand object-centered teaching across all fields and disciplines in the University of Chicago’s celebrated College Core. The series provides primary source material for discussion, questioning, and interpretation by students and faculty from many fields and disciplines while at the same time opening a window into the intellectual life of the University for the broader public.

Embodying the Self (2019)
in partnership with the Social Science sequence “Self, Culture, and Society”

Medium / Image (2021)
in partnership with the Humanities Division course “Media Aesthetics”

Poetry is Everything (2023)
in partnership with the Humanities Division course “Poetry and the Human”

Exhibitions in Practice (2019)
This course sequence and exhibition engages advanced undergraduates and graduate students in a comprehensive curatorial experience, from collection visits and research through installation and public programming.

The History of Perception (2018)
This exhibition explored the history of perception through the lens of visual art and serves as primary source material for a University of Chicago class of the same title. Drawn from the Smart Museum’s collection, the works on view illustrated a spectrum of perceptual interests—from social consequences to optical dimensions. As part of the class, students will write accompanying label texts for the exhibition and explore qualities of perception through performance and other experiences.

Archive of academic exhibitions
Prior to the founding of the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry, the Mellon Program spurred new scholarship and strengthened connections between the University of Chicago and the Smart Museum.