Director of the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry and Head of Education – Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, IL

Salary: $130k – $150k (Yearly Salary)

Unit Description

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. Founded as the David and Alfred Smart Gallery in 1974, the museum was renamed to the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art in 1990. 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. Over 51,000 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. With the recent appointment of Vanja Malloy as the Dana Feitler Director of the Smart Museum and with the museum approaching its 50th anniversary in 2024 — now is an exciting moment to join the Smart Museum, and the University of Chicago is keen to support the Smart Museum’s dynamic role in expanding artist cannons, rethinking received histories, introducing new perspectives, and engaging diverse communities – locally, nationally, and internationally.

Established in 2018, the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry promotes deep engagement with the Smart Museum’s collections and exhibitions by supporting the use of art as a pedagogical resource, developing curricular exhibitions, and providing a range of unique student opportunities, both undergraduate and graduate. The Feitler Center advances connections—across the University of Chicago’s fields and disciplines—through which all students and faculty can powerfully experience and study works of art. The Center fosters interdisciplinary dialogue, highlights the many ways that art can animate that scholarship, and supports the University’s core commitment to free and open discourse.

The Museum’s educational outreach includes the work of the Smart’s Public Practice department, which organizes public programs, supports artistic interventions, and provides platforms that address the pressing cultural, social, and political issues of our moment. These projects are driven by the intellectual and cultural energy of our place–the University of Chicago on the South Side of Chicago–and situate the Museum as a critical civic site for our publics to convene in meaningful dialogue and action. Collaborations connect the Smart with a broad network of campus, cultural, and civic organizations promoting a multi-faceted and omni-directional discourse grounded in artistic inquiry, social impact, and a diversity of ideas and perspectives.

Job Summary

The Director of the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry is charged with conceptualizing, leading, and advancing the museum’s academic engagement, student and outreach, and co-curricular programming. This position serves as a critical ambassador for advancing the role of art in teaching at large and shapes interdisciplinary pedagogy and engagement. Through partnerships with faculty, students, and community members, the Director integrates object-based study into curricular and co-curricular pursuits and defines the Smart Museum as a premier destination for individuals from disparate disciplines to engage in collaborative research, learning, and conversation through the lens of art objects.

With the additional role of Head of Education this position will also oversee the Smart’s Public Practice Department and will provide strategic leadership to strengthen collaboration and alignment between the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry and Public Practice. This additional role will constitute approximately 10 percent of the total responsibilities for the position.


  • Partners with Museum Director to set vision, strategy, and goals for the Feitler Center of Academic Inquiry.
  • Oversees Feitler Center staff, budget, and overall activities; collaborative programs with University and community partners; robust internships and student professional development experiences.
  • Builds and maintains relationships with faculty and students to foster innovation, experimentation, and practice connected to multi-disciplinary object-based teaching and research. Articulates the impactful role art can have in teaching and learning across campus and in the community.
  • Potential to develop and teach an undergraduate or graduate level class on museum practice.
  • Serves as an enthusiastic connector and a liaison to academic departments and administrative units within the University. This may include organizing workshops, colloquia, and public programs that bring together disparate partners and create opportunities for collaboration.
  • Supports curricular engagement with the Smart Museum by organizing and teaching or co-teaching University class visits. Works to grow the number of classes that come to the museum.
  • As appropriate, organizes and/or oversees curricular-driven exhibitions.
  • Collaborates with colleagues across the Smart Museum to advance museum-wide goals. Works closely with the Museum’s Director and the Director of Development to lead and support fundraising efforts.
  • Serves as a staff lead on the Feitler Center’s Advisory Committee.
  • In partnership with the Museum’s Director and the Associate Director of Communications, contributes to the communications strategy and marketing efforts aimed at increasing the visibility of the Smart Museum on campus and beyond.
  • Actively engages in a network of museum and university arts leaders, including organizing and attending conference panels, symposia, and other opportunities that share and strengthen the Museum’s activities.
  • Partners with Museum Director and leadership staff in Public Practice to set vision, strategy, and goals for the Public Practice team.
  • Provides oversight for Public Practice staff, budget, and overall activities.
  • Strengthens collaboration and alignment between the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry and Public Practice.
  • Manages employees by establishing annual performance goals, allocating resources, assessing annual performance, and determining individual merit, incentive and/or promotional increases.
  • Manages program operations and administrative functions which may include planning and scheduling, program evaluation, policy implementation, personnel administration, budget, marketing, fundraising and proposal development.
  • Performs other related work as needed.


Preferred Qualifications


  • PhD in art history or related field.

Preferred Competencies

  • Knowledge of museum best practices as well as current and emerging trends in the academic museum field.
  • Excellent teaching skills at a university level with an emphasis on object-based and interactive approaches.
  • Excellent research skills that can be used to enable connections between the permanent collection and a range of interdisciplinary courses.
  • An interdisciplinary thinker who has genuine enthusiasm for collaboration. Demonstrated commitment to academic engagement with faculty and students.
  • An adept leader who can effectively manage and mentor staff reports in an active and diverse environment.
  • Previous experience with strategic planning and long-term visioning.
  • Conceptualize steps involved in implementing programs, events, and broader projects. Knowledge of systems of assessment and evaluation.
  • Establish and maintain collaborative and effective relationships with the Museum’s internal team, internal and external University collaborators, and diverse museum audiences.
  • Strong commitment and ability to provide outreach at all levels with well-developed interpersonal skills and demonstrated ability to work positively and collegially with staff, researchers, and colleagues.
  • Well-developed written/oral communication skills with the ability to communicate clearly and effectively.

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