Ephemeral Museum

last edited on Mon. March 20 2017

Pop-up project curated by UChicago students

ephemeral /əˈfem(ə)rəl/
Lasting for a very short time

museum /myo͞oˈzēəm/
an institution devoted to the procurement, care, study, and display of objects of lasting interest or value

A new pop-up project sets the record for briefest exhibition at the Smart: 12 days.

Ephemeral Museum is curated by University of Chicago students from Associate Professor Andrei Pop’s winter art history course Rethinking the Social History of Art. The course considered the ways art relates to the world, from reflecting the views of particular people and classes to participating in religious practice and social critique.

Working in small groups, the students visited the Museum’s study room throughout the quarter to view and research works from the collection. Then, the students selected 7 objects and together wrote the accompanying labels to illuminate and respond to the broad themes of the course and the roles that museums play in our understanding of the social and political history of art.

While their resulting exhibition is only on view for a short time, it digs deep into questions about the relationship between the art historical cannon and modern interpreters—professors, students, curators, and museum visitors alike. Artworks included in the show run the gamut of from sculpture, photography, and architectural decoration to advertising poster and the comic book.

On his students’ display, Professor Pop remarked, “it is gratifying to see to what extent the students’ choices echo and extend one another—like the Surrealist game of Exquisite Corpse, where you continue someone else's drawing that you haven’t seen.”

Ephemeral Museum is on view in the teaching space of the Edward A. and Inge Maser Gallery through March 26, 2017.

When writing the label text, we kept thinking what information should we include. We hope to provide sufficient context for the audience, but not intervene in their ways of seeing.—Weijiao Elaine Wang