You Belong

last edited on Thu. September 8 2016

 As we gear up for the start of another school year here on the University of Chicago campus we would like to take a minute to say thank you to our summer collaborators who helped us develop In Anticipation of Belonging: the Teen Arts Council, the Odyssey Institute, Red Line Service, and the Stockyard Institute for a phenomenal summer of programming at the Smart.

Together, we engaged in conversations around objects in the Museum’s collection and transformed the Smart’s galleries into an idealized space of belonging. We saw amazing hands on research projects, created sonic portraits of visitors and the galleries, listening along as the museum turned into the Smart Radio Station. We hosted public talks about life in transition and held a sleepover at the Smart (a museum first!). There were collaborative art projects as well as the development of the DOPEcent® Program.

While these projects only temporarily filled the walls—and airwaves—of the Museum, the partners will continue their public investigations into belonging throughout the year as a newly-formed collective that will serve as the Smart’s 2016–17 Interpreters in Residence.

This summer of collaboration has acted as the perfect means of jumpstarting our yearlong Conversation with the Collection, an experimental installation on the theme of belonging.

The project mixes works from across cultures and eras, from Rococo painting and Japanese hanging scrolls to contemporary sculpture and the dining room furniture designed by Frank Lloyd Wright for his Robie House.

These works raise complicated questions about what it means to belong—to a place, a culture, a family, or a group. They present rituals, spaces, and symbols that conjure shared experience and investigate the relationship between collective and individual identity. The artworks also call into question what happens when people, as well as objects, move across these spaces or are expelled from them. By juxtaposing these artworks from different cultures and eras we hope to explore the many ways we understand our place in the ever-shifting world around us, while also reflecting on the implications of “belonging” for museum display itself.

So thank you again to our collaborators, for all of their work this summer, and we are so thrilled that this discussion of belonging will continue with the Smart’s 2016–17 Interpreters in Residence, and come check out Conversations with the Collection: Belonging, up now at the Smart.



“I do belong with family, I feel like I belong with other teachers, having discussions. I belong in museums. So I belong.”

—visitor interview on Stockyard Institute’s Smart Radio (87.3 FM) project