Smart Museum’s Objects & Voices: A Collection of Stories

The Smart Museum’s current exhibition is a culmination of 40 years of the University of Chicago’s faculty, students, and alumni’s ambitions to construct an intellectual and concrete artistic entity that allows patrons to observe and contemplate the world through an inquisitive eye of the natural and imaginary world of art.

Objects & Voices: A Collection of Stories runs through June 21 and features 17 mini self-galleries under one large exhibition. The “objects” are the physical interests while the “voices” are the inner soliloquies of the curator’s mind through thematic representations of their passions, loves, and life’s work.

1096The melange of artists and curators for this exhibition has a wide range of themes from war sketches in “War Portfolios in Teaching” to treasured pieces of the Arts and Crafts movement in “Interaction: British and American Modernist Design.” Many exhibitions in any type of museum try to focus on the objective stance of a subject; here the curators’ subjectivity to each of their themes lends the visitor the experience of participation in museum planning. The visitor has the opportunity to meet past and present staff, the works which have shaped their careers, as well as the many “objects” are owned by the university or the museum itself. Ever wanted to poke around in the mind of your professor or artist, see them tick? Here’s your chance.

The exhibition itself has no start or end point, pick a gallery, pick a room, or pick an art work. Explore, peruse, and wonder, that is your job, as it is at every exhibition. This one may or not strike a memory or emotion. As for myself, in “War Portfolios in Teaching,” I was reminded of walking the beach at Normandy or in “Fragments of the Medieval Past,” I relived my night in Saint Mark’s Basilica watching the lights slowly raise and the gold on the ceiling illuminate the entire place. Don’t seek out or search for you invocation of memories; it will all be present in your mind’s eye soon enough.1095

Be sure to listen to the curator’s “voices.” In “Mark Rothko: From Nature to Abstraction” curator, Russell Bowman, former director of the Milwaukee Art Museum recalls his time at the Smart Museum and how one piece set the direction for his career.

The Smart Museum is not as large as the Art Institute or even the Museum of Contemporary Art, but this exhibition is a hidden gem in the south side of Chicago and not to be missed. The “Last Days Are Coming” be sure not to miss this exhibition!

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