Smart Museum of Art
Chicago, Illinois



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Arty Fact

Smart Museum of Art
Chicago, Illinois
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5550 S. Greenwood Avenue
Chicago, Illinois
United States

More about Smart Museum of Art

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The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art is open to the general public, free of charge, and is host to some of the greatest works of art of our time.

It holds artworks by Mark Rothko, Joan Mitchell, Childe HassamAuguste Rodin, Diego Rivera, Jean Arp, and original furniture by Frank Lloyd Wright.

Owned by the University of Chicago, the Smart Museum is one of many private institutions in the United States satisfying the vast need for public access to art without payment. In many other nations, this function is addressed by the state. Ironically, the loudest and most influential contemporary voices against free public resources were the cynical neoliberal economists, including the late Milton Friedman and Gary Becker, of the University of Chicago, who argued consistently that offering people free resources, regardless of the human necessity, hindered people's desire for self-reliance, and that state funds dedicated to the public welfare should be cut. The University of Chicago, apparently, did not consult its economists when it made the policy to make admission to the Smart Museum free of charge.

In the late 1960's, the Smart Family Foundation gave the university stock in Esquire magazine, published by the late David and Alfred Smart, which allowed the university to assemble the museum collection from a variety of different sources.

In 2019, a group of ten University of Chicago students were charged with choosing a work for the collection from the Viennacontemporary art fair. Prior to the trip, its organizers assigned coursework that would help "the students to reflect on the contemporary art market, globalization, and art fairs." They landed on three photographs by Austrian artist Sophie Thun.



  1. Glusac, Elaine. "Smart Museum of Art." Conde Nast Traveler,
  2. Jain, Saumya. "UChicago Students Make Acquisition for Smart Museum." The Chicago Maroon, Nov. 10, 2019,
  3. Maizie, David. Two Visionary Brothers: David and Alfred Smart. Chicago: David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art, University of Chicago, 2003.
  5. Nik-Khah, Edward. "Neoliberal pharmaceutical science and the Chicago School of Economics." Social Studies of Science 44, no. 4 (2014): 489-517.
  6. "University of Chicago, David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art." MacArthur Foundation, 2019,
  7. Waxman, Lori. "Art by black artists forces a new look at art history in a must-see show at the Smart Museum." The Chicago Tribune, Apr. 22, 2019,

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Here is what Wikipedia says about Smart Museum of Art

The David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art is an art museum located on the campus of the University of Chicago in Chicago, Illinois. The permanent collection has over 15,000 objects. Admission is free and open to the general public.

The Smart Museum and the adjacent Cochrane-Woods Art Center were designed by the architect Edward Larrabee Barnes.


The University of Chicago began seriously planning to build an art museum and establish a permanent art collection in the 1960s (the Renaissance Society was founded in 1915, but does not collect art).

The founding gift came from the Smart Family Foundation in 1967 and construction began in 1971. The museum was named after David A. Smart (1892–1952) and his brother Alfred Smart (1895–1951), the Chicago-based publishers of Esquire, Coronet, and, with Teriade, Verve, as well as the founders of Coronet Films. David Smart was an art collector and owned paintings by Picasso, Renoir, and Chagall. However, the founding gift was of Esquire stock and did not include any works from his personal collection. Instead, the collection was initially assembled from a variety of sources, including works of art in various university departments and gifts from foundations and individual donors.

The Smart's founding director was the art historian and professor Edward A. Maser and the museum was originally associated with the university's department of art history. In 1983, the museum became a separate unit of the university devoted to serving the entire community, including educational outreach activities in local public schools. In its early years it was known as the Smart Gallery but was renamed the David and Alfred Smart Museum of Art in 1990 to reflect the expanded mission.

Check out the full Wikipedia article about Smart Museum of Art.