About Academic Programs at the Mead

The Mead Art Museum is a site for dynamic and experiential interactions between communities, curricula, and collections. Our dedicated Academic Programs offer faculty the opportunity to extend their classroom into the museum, with curricular experiences across disciplines and topics. Work with our Curator of Academic Programs Emily Potter-Ndiaye to design a one-time visit or assignment. or a multi-part engagement for your course. All disciplines are welcome!

A group of Amherst College students seated on the floor of museum storage looking closely at a large painting.
Amherst College Students View and Discuss Art in the Mead's Storage Facility

Academic Program Offerings

The Mead offers a range of course collaborations built around museum and object-based research to deepen your learning objectives. We draw from the 20,000+ objects in the collections, and have experience in pedagogical strategies from the field of museum education. We also embrace experimentation, and always build from our faculty partners' learning objectives for their courses, resulting in a true variety of assignments and curricula. Most of our programs fall into one of these rough formats:

Museum Introduction for First-Year Seminars 

A facilitated discussion and small group work in the galleries or with a selection of 6 - 10 objects related to your course themes. This also introduces new students to the Mead resources and staff.

Gallery-based Activity in the Exhibitions

A facilitated discussion, small group research, hands-on activities, or performance-based practice (eg, dance improvisation) within the context of an ongoing exhibition. These activities may make use of the large open spaces in the museum or use the conceptual framework of an exhibition or the museum itself as the object of study.

Study Room Assignment with Mead Collections

These sessions are built on your learning objectives and a curated list of artworks/objects that we bring out from storage. These can be offered as a one-time or multiple session program, and can also be followed by separate, individual or small group study room appointments with your students to further their research or complete an assignment.

How to set up a class program with the Mead

Email Emily Potter-Ndiaye with as much preliminary information as you have ready, ie:

  • Your class title, topic, and number of students (anticipated)
  • Your preferred date(s) and time(s)
  • Your main learning objective(s) for the museum session
  • Anything you know about the artworks or what types of artworks you'd like to use. (Less is more! We advise between 3 and 6 objects/class, with exceptions for large classes, or for particular pedagogical reasons). Please note, depending on the size and condition of the artworks, we may not be able to pull all of your selections.

Emily or Mila will reply to confirm the date and set up a 30 minute call to plan the logistics, agenda, and artworks for your session.

Our Approach to Teaching and Learning at the Mead

With her back towards us, a young woman is looking at a large 17th century painting in a gallery with red walls.

An interest in process and praxis

As it approaches its 75th year, the Mead is evolving from its roots as a study collection to a site for dynamic and experiential interactions between communities, curricula, and collections. The Mead's dedicated educators focus on high-impact practices, including cohort internships, collaborative curation, and project-based learning opportunities for Amherst College courses, blending academic instruction with applied and work-engaged learning. Using the Mead's diverse collection, we connect to a wide range of curricular and thematic topics, with an emphasis on college coursework, K-12 partnerships, and project-based learning.

Our work is socially- and community-involved

We convene people across-generations, experiences, and identities through a common interest in art, culture, and stories. Bringing together campus and community members, our programs invite participants to not only learn but contribute, to look and listen deeply, and to share about art, stories, and themselves. 

We are curious and self aware about transformation -institutional, personal, social

Situated within the Amherst College campus, the Mead is located on Nonotuck homeland, and home to diverse indigenous communities today. In acknowledgement of both the material and discursive violence and dispossession of settler-colonial societies towards indigenous communities, members of the African diaspora, and other BIPOC groups - past and present - education programs at the Mead strive to embody and advance anti-oppressive pedagogies.

Contact Us: 

To brainstorm and reserve a class visit, please contact: 

Emily Potter-Ndiaye (she/hers) 
Dwight and Kirsten Poler and Andrew W. Mellon Head of Education and Curator of Academic Programs 
epotterndiaye@amherst.edu  | 413-542-8229 

To set up one-on-one research time with Mead collections, please contact: 

Miloslava (Mila) Hruba (she/hers) 
Study Room Manager and European Print Specialist
mhruba@amherst.edu | 413-542-2991