Student Opportunities

Research and career development support for UChicago students

Through its student programs, the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry provides paid opportunities for undergraduate and graduate students to expand their experience of the visual arts in a museum setting.

We offer a range of programs to suit various levels of interest and academic advancement. Our undergraduate departmental internships are entry-level introductions to museum careers, while our Research Associateships and Smart Scholarships are advanced, independent research experiences for students from any field of study.

Curatorial internships for undergraduates and graduate students are well-suited for students with academic specialities in the arts and humanities who wish to explore curatorial careers.

For more information about any of the opportunities below, contact Aaron Wilder, Academic Engagement Coordinator, Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry.

Paid opportunities for UChicago Students

Smart Scholars
This program supports research opportunities at the Smart Museum of Art resulting in an original creative work (of visual art, music, dance, writing), exhibition, program, or scholarly essay. Students propose their own projects grounded in academic research (library, database, archive, conservation, materials science laboratory, or other museums) into one or more objects in the Museum’s collection.


Smart Scholars is an initiative of the Smart Museum of Art’s Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry made possible in part by generous funding from the Smart Family Foundation of New York. Additional support has been provided by the University of Chicago’s College Center for Research & Fellowships (CCRF).

Smart Undergraduate Research Associates
Presented in partnership with the College Center for Research and Fellowships, Undergraduate Research Associates work closely with a mentor—Smart Museum curators, educators, registrars, or conservators—to provide art-related research for specific Museum projects that are already in the planning stages and are scheduled to take place during the term of the student’s position, such as exhibitions or related programming. 

Typical application cycle: Positions post in spring through fall for the next academic quarter. 

Undergraduate Research Opportunities for Summer 2021 are listed below. Each opportunity below includes a link for the full position description, eligibility requirements, and application instructions. Only UChicago undergraduate students are eligible and some positions have additional eligibility requirements. If you have any questions, please reach out to Aaron Wilder, Academic Engagement Coordinator:

Media Aesthetics Exhibition Undergraduate Research Associates (2 positions)
Summer 2021

The Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry at the Smart Museum of Art seeks two undergraduates to support an upcoming exhibition, Smart to the Core: Media Aesthetics. This project is the second in a series of exhibitions designed by the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry to expand object-centered teaching across all fields and disciplines in the University of Chicago’s celebrated College Core. Bringing together paintings, photographs, prints, and new media, this conceptually-driven exhibition will speak to the historicity of Western civilization’s relationship with media and examine notions of the gaze and gendered modes of seeing, mimesis and indexicality, the politics of aesthetic reception, and racialized representations of beauty in visual culture. Working closely with the Director of the Feitler Center and the Assistant Curator for Academic Initiatives, the Associates (2 positions) will provide key support in ongoing research and coordination efforts for the exhibition.
Full details:

Internships in Museum Departments
University of Chicago undergraduate and graduate students gain direct experience in museum work through year and quarter-long internships in a variety of areas, including the Smart Museum’s exhibitions, publications, campus art, registration, education, marketing, and business offices. Qualifications vary by department; all positions are paid and require approximately 8-15 hours of work each week.

Typical application cycle: as needed, but generally post a few months in advance of each academic quarter.

Undergraduate Metcalf Internships for Summer 2021 are listed below. Each opportunity below includes a link for the full position description, eligibility requirements, and application instructions. Only UChicago undergraduate students are eligible and some positions have additional eligibility requirements. If interested in applying for more than one opportunity below, please note you will need to apply for each separately with a unique cover letter specific to that opportunity. If you have any questions, please reach out to Aaron Wilder, Academic Engagement Coordinator:

These paid student opportunities are made possible by generous funding from the College at the University of Chicago, specifically through the Careers in Journalism and Creative Writing/Arts, Culture, and Entertainment (CIJCW/ACE) Program.

Collections Data & Information Metcalf Internship
Summer 2021

This position works with the Assistant Registrar to assist in all aspects of database and collection documentation, working directly with the electronic and paper systems that catalog, document, and report on both the permanent collection and loans to the Smart Museum. The Collections Data & Information Intern will learn how museum staff use digital resources to archive and provide access to information about the collection and will develop skills in collections management and documentation.
Full details:

Development Metcalf Internship
Summer 2021

The Development Intern will help support the Museum’s fundraising and stewardship activities. Duties include institutional funder research and reporting; assisting with SmartPartners/Annual Fund acknowledgements, campaigns, and renewal mailings; gathering program data, statistics, and anecdotes; data entry; annual report coordination and survey development and reporting.
Full details:

Teen Engagement Metcalf Internship
Summer 2021

This student intern will be a vital member of the Public Practice team to support projects across the museum, focusing intensively to support teen engagement. Teen programming at the Smart Museum provides multivalent opportunities for South Side youth to access their lived experience, step into their creative brilliance, and contribute to civic dialogue through artful expression.
Full details:

Curatorial Internships for Undergraduate, Masters-, and PhD-level students
Curatorial internships engage students of all levels  in research support for exhibition projects, under the mentorship of curators at the Smart Museum.

Typical application cycle: as needed, but most post between spring for the following academic year.

Mellon Graduate Curatorial Internship
Provides advanced curatorial training for a PhD candidate in Art History. As often as possible, the Mellon internship will include the opportunity to curate an independent exhibition at the Smart.

Typical application cycle: posts annually in Feb/March with an April/May application deadline.

Smart Grad Talks
In partnership with UChicago Grad’s GradTalks Program, the Feitler Center offers biannual calls for applications to graduate students from any discipline to pitch and deliver short gallery talks about works of art at exhibition openings and related public events.

Typical application cycle: biannually, through postings in the Grad Guide Weekly

Special initiatives

a series of small gestures
What is immediate, integral, or meaningful for you right now? How do small gestures of care shape your life? The Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry invited UChicago students to submit proposals for 1–3 minute videos reflecting on the questions of how we care for ourselves and each other. a series of small gestures is related to the Smart Museum’s exhibition Take Care, which explores the multi-faceted nature of the ways care is conveyed and experienced. Over the course of Winter Quarter 2021, a series of ten “small gestures” of care will be accumulated on the Smart Museum's Instagram and online. 

Call for Proposals
Health Humanities in Times of Crisis Symposium

The Smart Museum of Art invites proposals from graduate students at any institution. Submissions due by February 15, 2021.

Health Humanities in Times of Crisis is a virtual symposium during Spring Quarter 2021 at the University of Chicago that will explore health in relation to crisis, where the health humanities is the study of the intersection of health, healing, and humanistic disciplines, as well as social science research that gives insight into the human condition. As we’ve seen throughout this past year, health is a contested personal, cultural, political, and social state, where questions of health and healing intersect with issues of race, gender, class, citizenship, art, education, and more. This symposium is a collaboration between the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry and the Smart Museum’s Department of Public Practice. We welcome a dialogue across disciplinary and methodological boundaries with those invested in grappling with the role of humanistic work in both crises and futures of recovery, renewal, and restoration.

Graduate students from any institution are invited to submit proposals in the form of artistic media, original papers, panels or workshops, and presentations. We encourage submissions from disciplines such as: allied health professions, area studies, arts and health, humanities, narrative medicine, media/film studies, medicine, nursing, philosophy and bioethics, science and technology studies, social sciences, and/or social work.

Questions? Contact Lauren Beard, Medical Humanities Graduate Intern