The Art of Experience

The Art of Experience: The Smart Museum

OPEN September 2014- June 2015 at the Smart Museum of Art at the University of Chicago from September 2014- June 2015.

(5550 S. Greenwood Ave. Chicago, IL 60637 )

This fall, we debut our museum project, The Art of Experience, at the Smart AoEphotoMuseum of Art at the University of Chicago. Much as we did with our clown theater productions, we are playing what is” supposed” to happen at an art museum. We invite you to move from passive visitors in the galleries to active participants in co-creating the Museum.

The Art of Experience is devised by Adrian Danzig and Rebecca Stevens, the Smart’s 2014–15 Interpreters in Residence. This annual residency provides a forum for Chicago-based artists with an interest in social engagement to create unique art experiences with Smart Museum guests.

About the Project

DECK-PACKAGE-MOCKU2PThe Art of Experience invites you to unpack what you usually do at an art museum and then re-pack only what you choose. To unlock yourself from your old habits, not because they are wrong or bad but because unlocking means acknowledging they are built on assumptions: about your visit, about the art, about how you will interact with it.  If you can soften these assumptions, might you be moved or changed in new ways?  There are several respectful and productive ways to encounter art in this museum.  How can you discover what is most relevant to you?


With The Art of Experience, visitors are asked to draw cards from a custom-500-Clown-525pxdesigned deck within GalleryX. Each card is an invitation—“Write a letter to the artist whose piece of art annoys or angers you,” “What in this museum thinks it is invisible but is not?” “Which work of art reminds you of your mother?”—that encourages visitors to think differently about museums, works of art, and artists: provoking laugher, conversation, wonder, among a wide palette of emotions.

card 4The project is inspired by the philosophy of John Dewey—a onetime professor at the University of Chicago and author of the influential book Art as Experience (1934)—and by Howard Gardner’s seminal research and theory of multiple intelligences. It encourages visitors to directly engage with and interpret the art around them using their own expertise, whether kinesthetic, social, logical, linguistic, or spiritual.