Assistant Registrar, Permanent Collections

Updated: 4 months ago
Location: Chicago, ILLINOIS
Job Type: FullTime


AI Exhibitions and Registration

About the Department

As the fine arts museum of the University of Chicago, the Smart Museum of Art is a site for rigorous inquiry and exchange that encourages the examination of complex issues through the lens of art objects and artistic practice. Through strong scholarly and community collaborations and a welcoming approach to its exhibitions, collections, publications, research and teaching, and public programs, the Smart Museum plays a dynamic role in expanding artistic canons, rethinking received histories, introducing new perspectives, and engaging diverse communities—locally, nationally, and internationally. The Smart Museum will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2024.

Job Summary

The Assistant Registrar, Permanent Collections is primarily responsible for overseeing registration and collections care activities for Smart-owned (or soon to be owned) artworks. The Assistant Registrar works in collaboration with other registrars, preparators, curators, vendors, facilities managers, and unit leaders across the organization to ensure that permanent collections works are documented, organized, stored, and exhibited safely, making decisions that are well informed with respect to current best practices in registration and collections management. The Assistant Registrar reports directly to the Head Registrar of the Smart Museum.


  • Executes responsibilities related to the management of the Smart’s permanent collection, including exhibitions, collections care, accessioning and deaccessioning, and collections management database systems (Gallery Systems Suite) maintenance.
  • Responds to external and internal requests for collections information, providing digital access to information (e.g. images) and physical access as appropriate.
  • Coordinates and oversees special projects, such as conservation treatment and object preparation work, as needed.
  • Implements and oversees environmental monitoring programs, including temperature and humidity monitoring, integrated pest management, and storage and housekeeping.
  • Processes new acquisitions; arranges packing and shipping for gifts and purchases; makes insurance arrangements and appropriate loan agreements; produces incoming receipts and condition reports; assigns and applies accession numbers; coordinates appropriate long term storage arrangements; creates and maintains TMS records; monitors copyright status of objects, including securing Non-Exclusive Use Licenses as needed.
  • Manages collections photography, including taking high resolution photographs of objects and exhibitions or coordinating and supervising outside photographers. Links and maintains photographs in collection database systems. Responds to external and internal image requests, managing rights and reproduction as needed.
  • Acts as Registrar in Charge for Permanent Collection Exhibitions; participates in exhibition planning as needed. May serve as a courier, both physical and virtual, for artworks in transit and during installation/deinstallation.
  • Manages Time Based Media (TBM) for the permanent collections and external loans for exhibition. Implements digital preservation of media files for the permanent collection.
  • Maintains the collections databases (Gallery Systems Suite); performs quality control to ensure complete, correct, and consistent records, in adherence to provenance and best practice standards outlined in the collections management policy. Researches and analyzes data to create reports. Provides training on the use of database systems to staff and interns.
  • Regularly checks condition, storage, storage locations (inventory), and housing needs of artworks.
  • Manages conservation projects for permanent collection objects, such as treatment and rehousing, by identifying needs, obtaining quotes, and overseeing work. May perform rehousing tasks as appropriate.
  • Provides access to collections for faculty, students, and other visitors, executing object handling needs. Answers requests for information concerning collections.
  • Supports Head Registrar in communications with the Office of Legal Counsel regarding all contracts, deeds, and agreements concerning collections.
  • Assists Head Registrar in deaccession projects as needed.
  • Oversees interns as needed and appropriate.
  • Collaboratively partners with teams across the Smart Museum to ensure continuity and smooth operations across functions and collections. Attends Museum staff and other meetings as needed. Participates in diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts and other committees.
  • Remains current on best practices and trends in the field. Represents the University and the Smart Museum in the field, including at conferences and professional organizations. Cross-trains and assists with issues as needed to ensure operational effectiveness.
  • Analyzes and interprets loans, including preparing and reviewing loan budgets and contracts, shipping, and insurance.
  • Performs maintenance of storage areas, collection records and databases with a moderate level of guidance and direction.
  • Performs other related work as needed.

Minimum Qualifications


Minimum requirements include a college or university degree in related field.

Work Experience:

Minimum requirements include knowledge and skills developed through 2-5 years of work experience in a related job discipline.



Preferred Qualifications


  • Master’s degree in art, art history, museum studies, or a related field.


  • Registration background and deep knowledge of registration best practiced related to collections care and management.
  • Overseeing the general care, display, and storage of significant collections for works of art.

Technical Skills or Knowledge:

  • Experience creating, maintaining, and managing records within the Gallery Systems Suite (The Museum System, eMuseum, and Media Studio).

Preferred Competencies

  • Work with others effectively to achieve objectives and meet deadlines.
  • Strong written and oral communication and organizational skills.
  • Strong attention to detail.

Working Conditions

  • Moves equipment weighing up to 25 pounds.
  • Remains in a stationary position for up to 7.5 hours.

Application Documents

  • Resume/CV (required)
  • Cover Letter (required)
  • References Contact Information (3)(preferred)

When applying, the document(s) MUST  be uploaded via the My Experience page, in the section titled Application Documents of the application.

Job Family

Museum & Arts

Role Impact

Individual Contributor

FLSA Status


Pay Frequency


Scheduled Weekly Hours


Benefits Eligible


Drug Test Required


Health Screen Required


Motor Vehicle Record Inquiry Required


Posting Statement

Employees must comply with the University’s COVID-19 vaccination requirements. More information about the requirements can be found on the University of Chicago Vaccination GoForward .
The University of Chicago is an Affirmative Action/ Equal Opportunity/Disabled/Veterans Employer and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national or ethnic origin, age, status as an individual with a disability, protected veteran status, genetic information, or other protected classes under the law. For additional information please see the University's Notice of Nondiscrimination.


Staff Job seekers in need of a reasonable accommodation to complete the application process should call 773-702-5800 or submit a request via Applicant Inquiry Form.


We seek a diverse pool of applicants who wish to join an academic community that places the highest value on rigorous inquiry and encourages a diversity of perspectives, experiences, groups of individuals, and ideas to inform and stimulate intellectual challenge, engagement, and exchange.


All offers of employment are contingent upon a background check that includes a review of conviction history.  A conviction does not automatically preclude University employment.  Rather, the University considers conviction information on a case-by-case basis and assesses the nature of the offense, the circumstances surrounding it, the proximity in time of the conviction, and its relevance to the position.


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