Ranging from curatorial training for doctoral students to institutional partnerships across disciplines, these relationships bolster an environment dedicated to promoting innovative art historical scholarship and scientific advances and to training the next generation of museum professionals.
The Northwestern University/Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts (NU-ACCESS) is a collaborative endeavor in conservation science that pursues objects-based and objects-inspired scientific research to advance the role of science within art history, curatorial scholarship, archaeology, and conservation. The goals of the collaborative program are to enrich the breadth, scope, and reach of scientific studies in the arts and in the wider field of conservation in the United States and abroad, by leveraging resources at the Art Institute and materials-related departments at Northwestern University. This research and education initiative also provides enhanced training opportunities for participants through involvement in university-museum multidisciplinary programs.
Learn more on the NU-ACCESS website.
Computationally-Based Imaging of Structure in Materials (CuBISM)
Art objects age over time, and while the materials that make up these objects hold intrinsic archival value, the objects are also models for understanding the process of property degradation over time. CuBISM aims to develop computational and experimental tools needed to understand how these changes take place. To accomplish this task, a research network––Northwestern University/Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts––has been established, incorporating leaders in cultural heritage science from the Rijksmuseum and the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands, the National Research Council in Italy, and the Synchrotron Soleil in France. This new infrastructure promises to deliver a significant enhancement of research and educational resources (networks, partnerships, and increased access to facilities and instrumentation) to a diverse group of users.
The art objects central to the project provide a series of well-defined case studies for investigating complex materials systems that are both applicable to materials education and that push the limits of the existing analytical tools, thereby inspiring instrumental innovations across broad sectors of the physical sciences. Further development of these tools will enable art conservators to more effectively make informed decisions about treatments of works of art, and to understand long-term materials degradation more generally.
The project will also deliver a significant enhancement of research and education infrastructure by a diverse group of users and will provide meaningful, international research experience to 50 participants, with a strong emphasis on scientists at the beginning of their careers. The connections between science and art illustrate the creative aspects of both disciplines to a very broad audience, attracting a more representative cross section of people into the scientific field.
Learn more on the NSF website.
Established in 2014 with support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Chicago Objects Study Initiative (COSI) is a tri-institutional collaboration aimed at enhancing object-based art historical training for doctoral students at Northwestern University and the University of Chicago in partnership with the Art Institute of Chicago.
COSI is comprised of four interrelated parts, each supported by in-depth exposure to the rich encyclopedic collections of the museum and to the expertise of the museum’s professional staff: object-based coursework; curatorial fellowships; academic events, including visiting scholar workshops and symposia designed around the Art Institute’s permanent collection; and cohort-driven opportunities for exchange of ideas across a wider scholarly network, serving to bridge art historical research between the three institutions.
Learn about our fellows.
With the assistance of Art Institute trustee and University of Chicago alumnus Julius Lewis, the Rhoades Foundation endowed a formal scholarly exchange program between the two institutions, enabling Art Institute curators to teach on specialized art historical topics in the University of Chicago’s Department of Art History and University of Chicago graduate students to hold a 10-month internship in one of the museum’s curatorial departments. This exchange, alongside regular faculty use of the museum’s collections for teaching and a close relationship in terms of jointly organized scholarly events, exhibition and publication collaborations, paved the way for the launch in 2014 of the Chicago Objects Study Initiative (COSI) with generous support from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.