Subject Matters


Spend an evening with art and ideas

ccminilogo.png Offered in conjunction with Curriculum / Collection at UMMA

Subject Matters is like an internet rabbit hole happening live, at an art museum. 

This new event series from the University of Michigan Museum of Art (UMMA) invites you to have the same kind of fun exploration of ideas and connections in person that you love scrolling through online. 

If you’d watch a video with any of these titles, Subject Matters is an event you don’t want to miss:

  • The Disturbing and Dangerous Ways Art Helped Build European Empires
  • The Metaphysical Questions ‘Weird Art’ Is Helping Us Answer
  • This Art Is Too Big (And Too Small) To Be Made By Humans

For each session, you’ll join a guest U-M professor and UMMA curator Dave Choberka for an evening of intriguing exploration, sparks of curiosity, and a new kind of social learning with art. For 90 minutes, you’ll dive deep into a topic you had no idea could be so interesting, and leave thinking “who knew I loved learning about [insert subject matter here]!"

Join Waitlist


All sessions are on Tuesday nights from 6:00 - 7:30pm. 
This is an in-person event, held at UMMA*.
Free. Registration Required.

Art in Nature - This Art Is Too Big (And Too Small) To Be Made By Humans

Spirals, dendrites, fractals. Take a deep dive through art into the micro and macro worlds of nature along with UMMA Curator for University Learning and Programs David Choberka and U-M faculty and artist Cathy Barry (Stamps School of Art and Design; Program in the Environment).

February 22
6:00 pm - 7:30pm

Karl Blossfeldt
Struthiopteris germanica
rotogravure on paper
9 5/16 in x 12 1/8 in (23.65 cm x 30.8 cm)

Seeing Empires - How Pictures of Animals Helped Build Empires

How did paintings of dogs, cats, and horses help build European empires? Consider this question along with UMMA Curator for University Learning and Programs and U-M faculty Bénédicte Boisseron (Department of Afroamerican and African Studies). Boisseron and Choberka will take you on a journey to explore how empires see the world and how representations of animals and actual animals themselves have been deployed in the building and unmaking of empires.

March 8
6:00 pm - 7:30pm

Marc Chagall
Arabian Nights. Pl. 13. Shaharazad's Night. "Then said the king in himself, 'By Allah, I will not slay her, until I have heard the next of her tale.' So they slept the rest of that night in mutual embrace till day finally brake..."
color lithograph on paper
17 in x 13 in (43.18 cm x 33.02 cm)

Materials Science and Engineering - What is This Made Of? 

How do crystal structures at the microscopic level lead to macro effects in art objects? Just what is a polymer? Is smell a material? Consider these questions and more at the intersection of materials, making, and meaning along with UMMA Curator for University Learning and Programs and U-M faculty Tim Chambers (Materials Science and Engineering).

March 22
6:00 pm - 7:30pm

An iron sculpture with two sections of iron that are joined together by a small connection halfway up their sides. The section on the left is a four sided piece that is divided into smaller parts. The section on the right is more cyllindrical with two branches coming off on the right. The piece sits on a large rectangular base.

Miguel Berrocal
24 in. x 19 1/2 in. x 6 in. ( 61 cm x 49.6 cm x 15.2 cm )
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Joseph A. Gosman


We’d love to see you at all the Subject Matters sessions! Keep your eyes open for new Subject Matters sessions in upcoming semesters.

Subject Matters is offered in collaboration with the UM faculty who worked with UMMA to curate installations in Curriculum / Collection for use by their university classes. Together, we are bringing the UMMA classroom experience to you. You’ll learn about the subject matter, about art, and you’ll have loads of fun doing it. We hope to see you there.


*COVID-19 Protocols

This is an in-person event. The ResponsiBLUE health screening will be required for all visitors and involves answering a few, quick questions about your health and recent COVID-19 exposure risk. Your check-in host will walk you through the process, it will take less than one minute. You can pre-complete the health screening up to 24-hours in advance of your visit.

Masks are currently required for all visitors regardless of vaccination status in accordance with University of Michigan policies. Thank you for helping us keep UMMA open and visitors safe..

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