Mead Art Museum
* Editor's note: To view a video clip associated with this story, go to http://videos.masslive.com/republican/2008/12/mead_art_museum.html. *
You know you've stumbled open something quite special as soon as you see the hours of the Mead Art Museum—Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to midnight. Yes, that's midnight.
The hours are a recent change here because “our primary audience (is) students,” explains Elizabeth E. Barker, museum director and chief curator. “Students are quite busy during the day.”
But that means this jewel of a museum, located in the heart of the Amherst College campus, is also free and open to anyone after a late night dinner or a movie. And, it's a collection that shimmers.
The museum boasts a huge collection of Russian art—the best quality outside Russia, according to Barker.
It also has all kinds of African art, collections of Japanese woodblock prints, collections of European masters such as Claude Monet, Peter Paul Rubens and Auguste Rodin and work of Americans including Thomas Cole, Gilbert Stuart, Thomas Eakins and James Abbott McNeill Whistler.
Particularly haunting are two paintings by Robert Brackman—one of Anne Morrow Lindbergh and one of her husband Charles A. Lindbergh, donated by the Lindberghs. Her father Dwight W. Morrow Jr., an Amherst alum, donated all kinds of work from his Mexican collection, as well as a painting by Diego Rivera, Barker said.
Morrow was ambassador to Mexico, appointed by his Amherst College classmate President Calvin Coolidge.
The museum opened in 1949, but the collection began decades and decades before with gifts of whole collections of art to isolated paintings to money to allow the museum to buy works of art, Barker said.
The museum has nearly 20,000 works of art, and staff change each of the eight galleries twice a year, making it the kind of place to return to often.
Other amenities here include a coffee bar in the lobby with three café tables, podcasts to accompany any tour and descriptions of each work inked by 33 volunteer docents who research the story behind the art.
If you go
Mead Art Museum
Where: 41 Quadrangle Drive, Amherst College campus, Amherst
Directions: Take Interstate 91 north to Exit 19 at Route 9, the Calvin Coolidge Bridge, take Route 9 east to Route 116 south in the center of Amherst. Proceed straight through light onto College Street, and the main portion of the Amherst College campus is on your right. The Mead is located in the center of campus, just east of the main quadrangle. The gray stone Stearns Steeple is located just outside the museum's front entrance.
When: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Sunday, 9 a.m. to midnight; Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., closed Monday, during academic session; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., all days except Monday, during academic recesses.
For info: Call (413) 542-2335; online, www.amherst.edu/museums/mead