Grants for Faculty Initiatives

Through the generosity of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Smart now offers grants to University of Chicago faculty who wish to integrate the Smart Museum’s collection or exhibitions into their own research or teaching.

A listing of recent grants is below.

Types of proposals

These Mellon grants are open to University faculty from all disciplines and can be requested in any amount, though most will fall in the $500–$1,500 range. Proposals will be evaluated on a rolling basis each year until funds are exhausted. Initiatives will vary in nature, but should make use of the Smart’s collections or exhibitions to enhance the academic life of the University. Proposals might include, but are not limited to:

Proposals will be reviewed by Smart Museum staff and evaluated as to feasibility, relevance to the Smart's collection and exhibitions, and likelihood of completion.


Please check back in the spring for information about the faculty grant program.

Awarded grants


Chelsea Foxwell, Assistant Professor of Art History: research assistance on two Japanese print projects based at the Smart Museum: (1) decoding and translating of texts in a collector’s Album of Meiji prints for publication on a website, and (2) transcription, translation, and interpretive research for Osaka prints from the recently bequeathed Brooks McCormick, Jr. Collection. ($1500)

Ada Palmer, Assistant Professor of History: charter bus service for Renaissance Society of America conference attendees to visit two Renaissance-related exhibitions at UChicago: Tensions in Renaissance Cities at the Special Collections Research Center and Classicisms at the Smart Museum. ($758)


Geof Oppenheimer, Associate Professor of Visual Arts: travel to Pittsburgh and San Francisco to consider objects for inclusion in the fall 2017 exhibition The Hysterical Material. ($1,500)

Wu Hung, Harrie A. Vanderstappen Distinguished Service Professor of Art History, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, and the College: research assistance in support of an upcoming Smart Museum exhibition project. ($1,000)


Rebecca Zorach, Professor of Art History: support for spring 2015 panel co-sponsored with SAIC on the Wall of Respect. ($500)

Larry Norman, Professor of Romance Languages and Literatures: support for a February 27 study day and subsequent convening of interdisciplinary faculty around the upcoming Classicisms exhibition project. ($500)


Mindy Schwartz, Professor of Medicine: co-sponsorship of a lecture by Dr. Richard Gunderman (Indiana University) on April 17, 2014, to mark the opening of Imaging/Imagining: The Human Body in Anatomical Representation, a three-venue exhibition running concurrently at the Smart Museum of Art, the Special Collections Research Center, and the John Crerar Library. ($500)

Aden Kumler, Associate Professor of Art History: research assistance from graduate student Claire Jenson to help prepare a mini-exhibition on medieval architectural fragments for the Smart Museum’s spring 2015 project, Objects and Voices: A Collection of Stories. ($500)

Christine Mehring, Associate Professor and Chair of Art History: research to integrate a program of weekly object-based sections into the course Modern Art from the Enlightenment until Today. ($1,000)


Sidney Nagel, Stein-Freiler Distinguished Service Professor in Physics: travel expenses to join Anne Leonard on a panel of the College Art Association annual conference in New York, with the presentation Art and Science in Dialogue: Object-Based Workshops at the Smart Museum. ($500)

David Schutter, Assistant Professor in Visual Arts: travel and lodging funds for Merlin James, co-curator of Other Modernisms: Serge Charchoune, visiting from Glasgow, Scotland. ($1,600)


Chelsea Foxwell, Assistant Professor in Art History: research assistance to support curatorial work on Awash in Color: French and Japanese Prints, an exhibition being organized at the Smart Museum for fall 2012.


Megan Luke, Harper-Schmidt postdoctoral fellow: research to orient the Art 101 course (Introduction to Art) toward a Smart Museum collections focus, to increase students’ engagemnt with original works of art. Research was conducted by graduate student Maggie Taft under Dr. Luke’s guidance, with input from course assistant Victoria Salinger. The results are available to all new Art 101 instructors. ($1,200)

Judith Zeitlin, Professor in Chinese Literature, East Asian Languages and Civilizations: research travel for Performing Images: Opera in Chinese Visual Culture. Professor Zeitlin and her co-curator, graduate student Yuhang Li, visited museums in New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Hawaii, Boston, and Kansas City, to consider objects for inclusion in the Chinese opera exhibition slated to open at the Smart Museum in 2014. ($5,600)

Christine Mehring, Associate Professor in Art History, on behalf of the Object Cultures Workshop and 3CT (the Chicago Center for Contemporary Theory): co-sponsorship of the Lives of Things conference, held in April 2011 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of Arjun Appadurai’s edited volume The Social Life of Things: Commodities in Cultural Perspective. ($500)


Christine Mehring, Associate Professor in Art History: research to integrate a program of object-based museum visits into the 20th-century art survey course. With research assistant Emily Capper, Professor Mehring mined the collection for objects that elucidate important figures and currents in 20th-century art. Now, all section meetings for this course are held at the Smart Museum. ($840)