Proposal to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation: Renewal Support for the Chicago Objects Study Initiative (COSI)

Project: Research project

Project Details


In 2011, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation launched “Art History Graduate Education and the Museum,” a nation-wide effort to enhance pre-doctoral art historical training with object-driven and materials-conscious research in museums. To that end, the Foundation in 2014 awarded a four-year grant of $1,299,401 to pilot the Chicago Objects Study Initiative (COSI), a collaboration between the Art Institute of Chicago, Northwestern University, and the University of Chicago. COSI has joined related programs in answering disciplinary and professional needs for broadening instruction with objects- and materials-based research, curatorial practice, and technical art history with profound impact. At the Art Institute, this grant has helped shape the roles of museum staff and collections in training the next generation of both academics and curatorial scholars, leading to the creation of a new department—Academic Engagement and Research—to coordinate this effort. At both universities, COSI has expanded the range of scholarly dialogues, skill-building resources, and intellectual horizons of faculty and students, most notably through the introduction of conservation and conservation science learning into academic art history programs. The tri-institutional COSI network has provided unprecedented support for young scholars to compete for art historical jobs at the highest level, diversifying skill sets for those entering academia and shaping research practices for those pursuing museum-based scholarly careers. Our collaborative spirit has inspired plans for deepening object-driven training within the research ecosystem of Chicago by exploring synergies and alliances with the Mellon Undergraduate Summer Academy and Curatorial Fellowship Program, with Northwestern University/Art Institute of Chicago Center for Scientific Studies in the Arts (NU-ACCESS), with the Mary and Leigh Block Museum at Northwestern, and, at the University of Chicago, with the Smart Museum of Art,
Effective start/end date4/1/189/30/24


  • Andrew W. Mellon Foundation (1711-05096)


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