Back for a limited engagement: The Allure of Matter

last edited on Tue. July 21 2020

July 24–August 9, 2020 • Reservations required

We look forward to welcoming you back to the Smart Museum of Art this summer for a reconfigured presentation of The Allure of Matter: Material Art from China.

From gunpowder to crystal, and silk to cigarettes, contemporary artists working in China have experimented with various materials, transforming seemingly everyday objects into large-scale artworks. Make a reservation and experience these material transformations in a reformatted presentation of the exhibition at the Smart Museum of Art, July 24–August 9, 2020.   

During this limited-time engagement, small groups of up to 6 people can reserve times to visit the exhibition. We will limit the number of people who can visit the exhibition at any one time, observing social distancing and other public health requirements.

What to expect during your visit

For information on how we’re supporting a safe museum space and campus environment, read our updated visit guidelines, which include: 

  • Timed reservations, reduced capacity, special hours
  • Staggered entry times—to allow for social distancing and other safety measures, only a handful of visitors will be in the Museum at any given time
  • Universal face coverings required for staff and visitors
  • The University of Chicago’s COVID-19 health and safety guidelines apply to everyone on campus, including visitors to the Smart Museum—everyone who makes a reservation must agree to follow public health requirements when visiting

Questions about visiting? Contact our visitor services team at 773.702.0175 or

A reconfigured presentation

Prior to closing in the spring, The Allure of Matter was divided into two halves, taking up the entire footprints of the Smart Museum and Wrightwood 659. The exhibition has been consolidated for this limited summer engagement at the Smart Museum—in place of gu wenda’s united nations: american code, we have added works by Liu Wei, Sui Jianguo, and Yin Xiuzhen that were previously shown at Wrightwood 659.

The Allure of Matter will not return to Wrightwood 659 this summer. Visit for information about their future exhibitions and events.

Virtual tours and object chats

Explore the exhibition anytime, from anywhere—throughout summer 2020, will continue to offer digital content that builds upon the entire exhibition, including new virtual tours of Wrightwood 659 and the Smart Museum, object chats, at-home activities, online programs, and behind-the-scenes videos and photos.

What’s next

On August 10, we will begin the process of deinstalling The Allure of Matter and preparing for a suite of fall exhibitions, academic initiatives, and other virtual and in person public programs, tentatively scheduled to begin with the start of the University’s autumn quarter. We hope to be able to welcome you back to the Museum in the fall for a phased and gradual reopening of the Smart Museum.

We will continue to monitor guidelines issued by the University of Chicago, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the City of Chicago, and State of Illinois. We will evaluate our plan regularly and may further adjust as the situation develops.

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