Driven by the museum’s 11 curatorial departments in collaboration with the museum’s conservation and science department, the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries and Archives, and the publishing department, research forms the foundation of the Art Institute’s reputation for innovation and scholarship.
In 2017 the Art Institute of Chicago received funding from the National Science Foundation to examine how visitors can engage with art, conservation, and science at the museum. This toolkit publication, Intersections in an Art Museum: Where Art Meets Science, brings together questions, processes, research, and a set of case studies to show how conservation and science stories give visitors new ways and perspectives for discovering and rediscovering the museum’s collection. The collaborative effort—among Learning and Public Engagement, Conservation and Science, Experience Design, plus many more—also aims to bring special attention to values of interdisciplinarity and multivocality, a reflection of the project itself.
Generously funded by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, this project seeks to create an international conversation on curatorial training and strategies that are able to map social justice into museum practices. Collectives from Chicago and Cape Town, South Africa, meet with artists and practitioners, curators, academics, educators, and other thought leaders on how to best engage in fresh dialogues on acquisitions and exhibitions, collaborations with emerging artists and other creative enterprises, and paths to expand the art historical canon. These activities will culminate in a public symposium for Chicago-area students at all stages of their academic careers who are interested in curatorial practice.
The main goals for this exchange are:
To connect, internationalize, and build on existing mentorship and curatorial training programs in both countries for students who are typically underrepresented in museums
To create an open forum for participants to explore curatorial approaches beyond commonly applied cultural interpretations of geographic positions, with an emphasis on equity and social justice
To engender reciprocity and concretize international partnerships through plans for future institutional collaborations, including further joint training programs, exhibitions, and art acquisitions
Launched in January 2018, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation supported Time-Based Media Initiative (TBM) at the Art Institute is strengthening the museum’s internal practices in collecting, preserving, and presenting time-based media works including film, video, slide, software, and digital art. The project is also building capacity and communication across a regional network of professionals dedicated to the research and care of time-based media artworks. The first convening in 2018 led to the establishment of the Midwest Media Arts Consortium, a professional community field-testing best practices and challenges related to time-based media concerns. The initiative has marshalled the talents of staff across several departments at the Art Institute, including Academic Engagement and Research; Architecture and Design; Collections and Loans; Curatorial Affairs; Conservation and Science; Exhibitions; Imaging; Media Production; Modern and Contemporary Art; Photography and the Ryerson and Burnham Libraries.
The Time-Based Media Initiative is made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Additional support is provided by The Grainger Fund for Conservation.
In 2009, the Getty Foundation launched its Online Scholarly Catalogue Initiative (OSCI) to explore the possibilities of presenting collection research in new ways. It brought together a consortium of nine museums, including the Art Institute of Chicago, to develop sustainable and replicable models for online scholarly collection catalogues and assess how a change in the way museums think about publishing might impact institutional structures. As a result of the initiative, the Art Institute published its first two pioneering digital scholarly catalogues on Monet and Renoir. Following this effort, the Art Institute received further funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to publish several more catalogues, and we continue to publish online with support from additional funders, including the Luce Foundation and the Lunder Foundation, among other generous donors. This support has allowed us to publish 10 catalogues to date, with others in progress.
The very definition of an online scholarly publication suggests accessibility and functionalities beyond print—a complex and groundbreaking endeavor entailing many challenges and opportunities. In developing these catalogues, we have produced publications that embrace the new, exciting digital world without leaving behind the heft and authority conventionally ascribed to the printed book. To this end, we strive to make the digital format familiar or comfortable enough for readers so that our catalogues can find a place among both scholars and a wider range of users who come across the catalogues on our website.
Browse a list of our online scholarly catalogues.