The University of Chicago classroom experience spans beyond our campus. As an Art History major, I spend the majority of my time looking at magical pieces of art projected onto a screen. However, due to the endless resources in the city of Chicago, my scope of viewership is not limited to the projector. In my class, A History of Japanese Visual Culture, we have been able to supplement our discussion and readings on Japanese printmaking and culture with visits to various museums throughout the city. At the Art Institute of Chicago, we were privileged to see reproductions of The Great Wave Off Kanagawa back in storage. It was incredible to interact with a work, not hindered by glass. At the Smart Museum of Art, located on UChicago’s campus, we were able to go behind the scenes and see works not normally on display.
The most rewarding visit we made, however, was to the Field Museum. The Field Museum of Natural History is one of the largest natural history museums in the world, collecting artifacts from around the globe. We were given a private tour of their collection of Japanese artifacts. From examining traditional kimonos to century old shoes and vases, our classroom was moved into the Field Museum.
The resources provided by the city of Chicago allow for academic pursuits outside the boundaries of the Hyde Park neighborhood. Experts on the subjects of woodblock printing, Japanese fashion, and architecture were available to enhance our study of Japanese visual culture. I chose to write a paper on a print that I saw at the Art Institute of Chicago. With merely a simple email to the curator of the exhibit, I was invited back, behind-the-scenes, to engage with the print again.
Opportunities within the city are not limited to the arts. The incredible alumni network that exists within the city gives resources to students studying all majors and pursuing all careers. Whether it’s studying sociology through donuts (check the UChicago Instagram!) or interning at a firm, the city of Chicago’s opportunities are boundless.