Free Museum: Smart Museum of Art at University of Chicago.
The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago is named for the family that donated the money for it, although it’s apt. This is an academic museum, open to the public and always showing something new. The museum hosts visiting exhibitions while showing pieces from its collection of modern art and design, Asian art, European art, and contemporary art.
This isn’t a huge museum, but it is large enough to hold both a cafe and a gift shop. Combine it with a trip to the University of Chicago’s other free museums, the Oriental Institute and the Renaissance Society, and you have a great, cultural, and low-cost day.
Admission is free. The museum is open every day but Monday.
Where: The Smart Museum of Art, 5550 S. Greenwood
About the Smart Museum of Art
“An intimate museum for bold encounters with art. As the fine arts museum of the University of Chicago, the Smart is home to thought-provoking exhibitions and an exquisite collection of ancient, Old Master, modern, and contemporary art from across the globe. Mission statement: The Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago opens the world through art and ideas.
- The David and Alfred Smart Gallery was dedicated on October 22, 1974, and opened to the public the following day.
- David (1892–1952) and Alfred (1894–1951) Smart, who built an innovative publishing business in Chicago.
- The brothers launched men’s fashion magazine Esquire in 1933 as well as less known publications and How to manuals.
- The Smart Foundation’s first major philanthropic gift, in 1967, was to the University of Chicago to establish an art museum.
- The Smart was guided by an educational mission focused on teaching and research, and by a commitment to making the arts accessible to the University community and wider public through our collection and special exhibitions.
- The Smart Museum of Art and Cochrane-Woods Art Center (home to the University’s art history department) are a set of modernist, were designed by architect Edward Larrabee Barnes. Both are modernist, limestone-paneled buildings centered on a shared sculpture garden.
- The Smart’s broad-based collection has expanded significantly, both through major gifts and through the initiation of an active acquisitions program.
- In the 1990’s the name was changed to the Smart Museum of Art
- In 1999, the Smart received a $5 million bequest from Paul and Miriam Kirkley to establish an endowment for art acquisitions.
- The Museum’s interior was reconfigured and renovated in 1999, under the direction of Vinci/Hamp Architects, and features a large, light-filled reception hall and a series of smaller galleries.
- The Museum celebrated it’s 40th Anniversary in 2014.