Mary Jane Jacob

Mary Jane Jacob.

Curator Mary Jane Jacob is professor and executive director of exhibitions and exhibition studies at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC). She has been exploring art outside the museum context since 1990, organizing groundbreaking programs that test the boundaries of public space and the relationship of contemporary art to audience. Landmark projects have included Culture in Action in Chicago and Living Modern Chicago; Conversations at the Castle during the Atlanta Olympics; and, for the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, Places with a Past and Evoking History. She is the co-editor of several anthologies, including Chicago Makes Modern: How Creative Minds Changed Society (University of Chicago Press, 2012); The Studio Reader: On the Space of Artists (University of Chicago Press, 2010); Learning Mind: Experience Into Art (University of California Press, 2009); and Buddha Mind in Contemporary Art (University of California Press, 2004). Jacobs was awarded a 2012 Curatorial Research Fellowship from the Andy Warhol Foundation to support her investigation of the history of site-specific art from the 1900s to today.

Jacob is a contributor to What Makes a Great Exhibition?, published by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage in 2006. She has also served as a Pew Fellowships evaluator (2012) and an exhibitions panelist (2004).


In this month’s Pew Fellows news highlights, The Philadelphia Inquirer celebrates ten years of Martha Graham Cracker, the alter ego of theater artist Dito van Reigersberg. Poet Major Jackson has published a new book with W.W. Norton & Company, and visual artist Gabriel Martinez opens a solo show at The Print Center this fall. DJ King Britt and performance artist Kate Watson-Wallace will co-curate a new music series as part of the 2015 Fringe Festival in September.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Francine Prose is the author of many works of fiction, including Blue Angel, which was a finalist for the 2000 National Book Award.

The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education commissions art that more directly fulfills its missions of land preservation, restoration, and education.

Grants & Grantees

The Institute of Contemporary Art at the University of Pennsylvania is widely known for giving artists exhibitions at critical points in their careers.

2013 Pew Fellow J. Louise Makary’s works on film combine dance, still photography, and experimental techniques, introducing unexpected, challenging elements into traditional narrative structure.

A multi-sensory exhibition based on the Library Company of Philadelphia’s collection of pre-Braille texts for the blind, curated by artist-in-residence and Pew Fellow Teresa Jayne.

Collaborators & Colleagues

Nina Simon is executive director of the Santa Cruz Museum of Art & History in California and author of The Participatory Museum.

Questions of Practice

Tacita Dean shares her thoughts about the making of her film JG in advance of its international debut at Arcadia University Art Gallery.

Grants & Grantees

Arcadia University Art Gallery presented the first United States museum survey of the internationally acclaimed artist’s ceramics outside of New York City.

An actor, director, stage designer, and playwright, Thaddeus Phillips “creates visual spectacles that take audiences to new frontiers.”


Alien She is the first exhibition to critically examine the lasting impact of Riot Grrrl, the widely influential but briefly lived global punk feminist movement.

Grants & Grantees

“Looking to nature for design inspiration is not a new idea,” says architect and designer Jenny Sabin.