The University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art.

Chicago’s Smart Museum to Establish Center for Academic Inquiry with $5 Million Gift

The University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art has received a $5 million gift from Joan and Robert Feitler. It is one of the largest donations the museum has ever received. The money will be used for the creation of a multidisciplinary research hub called the Feitler Center for Academic Inquiry, which will focus on “object-driven inquiry” in various fields, from the physical sciences to art history. Issa Lampe, who was the senior associate curator for academic affairs at the Yale University Art Gallery, will be the new center’s director.

“The arts play a distinct role in fulfilling the University of Chicago’s commitment to open discourse and rigorous inquiry as informed by a diversity of ideas, identities, and experiences,” said Alison Gass, the Smart Museum’s director. “The new Feitler Center will serve as a place for thinkers to come together to advance new understandings through an exchange of diverse perspectives and ideas via the lens of art objects and artistic practices.”

“Our relationship with the museum goes back fifty years last fall, to when it was just a germ of an idea presented by President Edward Levi to the Smart Family Foundation,” said Robert Feitler. “It is a wonderful place and as the Smart begins a new chapter under Ali’s leadership, Joan and I thought there could be no better way to inspire a new generation of students and scholars than to create a lasting home for active learning and study through the visual arts.”