On view February 9 – July 30, 2017

This exhibition celebrates the idiosyncratic nature of museum collections. Over time, as objects of value and curiosity accumulate in a museum, they enrich our understandings of cultures and ourselves.

A museum’s collection embodies the generosity and passions of many people, including patrons, alumni and curators. But objects in the collection are also artifacts of chance that inspire new conversations and even fictions.

Thanks to over 500 donors, the Amherst College art museum now houses more than 19,000 objects spanning 5,000 years and countless cultures and individuals from around the world. Like all collections, the Mead’s contains fragments of history. These fragments resist common impulses to illustrate familiar stories of art as comprehensive wholes.

Embracing this resistance, Accumulations presents selections from the Mead’s collection as opportunities for participation and debate: to create a living sculpture by having a conversation on a bench with a friend; to crane your neck to contemplate abstract art’s place in the museum’s white cube; to survey a table arrayed with functional and useless art objects that crisscross time; and to consider how images mediate the way we understand and project ourselves.

Accumulations is your opportunity to rethink received histories and to make new ones with works from the Mead’s collection.


This exhibition was made possible thanks to the generosity of Mead Advisory Board members Suzannah Fabing, Kenneth Rosenthal ’60, Helen and Charles C. Wilkes ’71, and Bette and Thomas R. Sturges II ’66. Additional support was provided by the Wise Fund for Fine Arts and Amherst College.