Curator – Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago–Smart-Museum_JR24222

Salary Range

$70,000 – $80,000 annually

About the Department

The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago is a site for rigorous inquiry and exchange that encourages the examination of complex issues through the lens of art objects and artistic practice. The Museum has long served as a model for academic art museums by combining the University’s deep-seated commitment to intense creative and intellectual engagement and open dialogue with Chicago’s entrepreneurial spirit, the South Side’s robust creative communities, and global arts perspectives that bridge lines of culture, language, and lived experience. Thousands of visitors annually experience the Smart, with exhibitions and programs highlighting permanent collections, works by contemporary artists, and objects on loan from institutional partners and private collectors.

The Smart’s permanent collection dynamically supports academic and artistic study, inspires new ideas and creative interpretation, and provides a space for reflection and conversation for the Museum’s many audiences. Comprising over 16,000 objects, this growing body of artworks represents art from across the globe, from antiquity to the present day. With the recent appointment of Vanja Malloy as the Dana Feitler Director and with the Museum approaching its 50th anniversary in 2024, now is an exciting moment to join the Smart Museum. The University of Chicago is keen to support the Smart Museum’s dynamic role in expanding artistic canons, rethinking received histories, introducing new perspectives, and engaging diverse communities – locally, nationally, and internationally.

Job Summary

The Curator will work closely with the Dana Feitler Director to implement the artistic identity and vision for the Museum. This position will serve as a staff liaison to the Smart Board of Governors Collections Committee, take an active role in fundraising and grant writing, and represent the Smart on campus, as well as locally, nationally, and internationally. The ideal candidate will be a scholar, with a successful track record of developing exhibitions, publications, collaborative projects, public speaking, and fundraising. They will have expertise in historic collections, with a mind toward global and transhistorical discourse and experience in developing inclusive narratives. They will have demonstrated a keen interest in exploring interdisciplinary subjects that include science and technology.


  • Develops a dynamic schedule of exhibitions and collection installments, traveling exhibitions, educational programing, publications, and digital resources in partnership with the Dana Feitler Director and senior leadership. 
  • Conceives innovative, scholarly, and multidisciplinary exhibitions with the permanent art collection that engage with University curriculum and enable new interdisciplinary collaborations. 
  • Devises exhibition checklists, and researches, writes, and edits exhibition labels and didactics. 
  • Works with staff and external consultants on exhibition installation and marketing materials. 
  • Acts as the Museum liaison for managing guest curators and collections consultants.  
  • When appropriate, authors published materials such as books, articles, exhibition catalogues, and digital content. 
  • Oversees Curatorial student employees, interns, and postdocs. 
  • Collaborates with the new Director of the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry and Head of Education to develop curricular engagement opportunities, provide talks and teaching support, and organize public events.  
  • Completes Collection research, especially with a focus on provenance.  
  • Works with faculty and outside scholars to support research of the collection and provide information on the objects. 
  • Builds, refines, and strengthens the permanent collection by researching and proposing new acquisitions, especially artworks that build on the diversity of the collection, and propose deaccessions. 
  • Serves as a liaison to the Smart Board of Governors Collections Committee. 
  • In collaboration with the Dana Feitler Director and Director of Development, supports donor cultivation to secure works of art and funding for exhibitions, publications, and other programs. This includes authoring grants and proposals for foundation and corporate support.  
  • Works with the senior team to design and implement an assessment program for the Museum’s exhibitions and programs. 
  • Manages Curatorial department budgets in collaboration with the Assistant Director of Finance.
  • Represents the Museum within the academic community, as well as in the arts and culture community in Chicago, by attending and participating in events, University-sponsored lectures, and presenting gallery talks and public lectures on the Smart and its collection at local, regional, and national conferences and professional meetings. 
  • Guides curatorial and related museum operations for the museum, including development, production, and evaluation of the Museum’s exhibitions.
  • Serves as primary liaison and counsels outside scholars, museum personnel, students, researchers, donors, and the general public regarding the content of collections.
  • Performs other related work as needed.

Minimum Qualifications


Minimum requirements include a college or university degree in related field.

Work Experience:

Minimum requirements include knowledge and skills developed through 5-7 years of work experience in a related job discipline.

Preferred Qualifications


  • PhD in art history or related field strongly preferred.


  • 7 years curatorial experience.

Preferred Competencies

  • Knowledge of museum best practices as well as current and emerging trends in the academic museum field. 
  • Establish and maintain collaborative and effective relationships with the Museum’s internal team, internal and external University collaborators, and diverse museum audiences. 
  • Strong commitment, provide outreach at all levels with well-developed interpersonal skills, and work positively and collegially with staff, researchers, colleagues, students, community partners and donors. 
  • Well-developed written/oral communication skills with the ability to communicate clearly and effectively.  

Application Documents

  • Resume/CV (required)
  • Cover Letter (required)
  • Professional References Contact Information (3) (preferred)

When applying directly on the University of Chicago website, the document(s) MUST be uploaded via the My Experience page, in the section titled Application Documents of the application.

Job Family

Museum & Arts

Role Impact

Individual Contributor

FLSA Status


Pay Frequency


Scheduled Weekly Hours


Benefits Eligible


Drug Test Required


Health Screen Required


Motor Vehicle Record Inquiry Required


Posting Statement

The University of Chicago is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity/Disabled/Veterans and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, military or veteran status, genetic information, or other protected classes under the law. For additional information please see the University’s Notice of Nondiscrimination.

Staff Job seekers in need of a reasonable accommodation to complete the application process should call 773-702-5800 or submit a request via Applicant Inquiry Form.

We seek a diverse pool of applicants who wish to join an academic community that places the highest value on rigorous inquiry and encourages a diversity of perspectives, experiences, groups of individuals, and ideas to inform and stimulate intellectual challenge, engagement, and exchange.

All offers of employment are contingent upon a background check that includes a review of conviction history.  A conviction does not automatically preclude University employment.  Rather, the University considers conviction information on a case-by-case basis and assesses the nature of the offense, the circumstances surrounding it, the proximity in time of the conviction, and its relevance to the position.

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