January 25, 2001
Director of Media Relations

AMHERST, Mass.—The Mead Art Museum will open again to the public on Saturday, March 3. The Mead has been closed since June 1999 for significant renovations that included the construction of new class and office space, a new teaching gallery and major enhancements in storage and infrastructure. “The new Mead enhances the appreciation of art as well as the teaching of art,” says Jill Meredith, the director of the Mead.

The Mead Art Museum, designed by McKim, Mead and White and completed in 1949, houses nearly 14,000 works of art acquired by Amherst College since 1839. Highlights include American art, European works by Snyders, Rubens, Bouguereau, and Monet, an imposing 17th-century English period room, prints and photographs, Japanese and Mexican folk art, African art and monumental ancient Near Eastern wall reliefs.

Upcoming exhibitions will include a show devoted to Russian art of the early 20th century, an exhibition of Mexican folk art from the Morrow Collection of the Mead Art Museum and a display of photographs by Jerome Liebling. Meredith says, “We look forward to an improved facility for our ever-increasing and diverse audiences and a number of landmark projects in the new century.”

Part of the south wing, which formerly housed the slide library, has been converted into a “teaching gallery:” a flexible classroom that will offer short-term displays of art works from the Mead’s collection together with slide projection and computer capability for digital images and video projection.

Meredith says, “For the first time faculty and students will be able to combine direct experience with art works while consulting comparative works in slide reproductions or on electronic databases available on the Internet. We anticipate the space will function as a seminar space, but work equally well as a formal lecture space for 35 or 40 and for other educational programs. We are delighted that the Mead will provide the academic community with greater access to our collections and accommodate a variety of teaching styles and curricular needs.”

The interior renovation of the building, which includes new heating, air-conditioning and ventilation systems to bring the museum up to national professional standards in the galleries, storage and art preparation areas, is complete. The Mead is now handicapped accessible and restrooms comply with requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act. The galleries have new lighting systems, flooring and wall surfaces. The basement level has been adapted and furnished for professional art preparation and art storage. A major grant from the federal Institute of Museum and Library Services provided partial support for the state-of-the-art compact storage systems. The Mead renovation is part of The Amherst College Campaign, a five-year effort to raise $200 million for capital projects and endowment by June 30, 2001. The Mead also receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.

Admission to the Mead will remain free, and new opportunities for visitors have been added. A new docent program is in place to help viewers better appreciate the art. The Mead will be open on Thursday evenings, in addition to its regular hours. A series of free “First Tuesday” gallery talks will begin on Tuesday, March 6, with a lecture by Martha Hoppin, the interim curator of American art at the Mead.

The Mead Art Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Thursdays until 9 p.m., and is closed on Mondays and all Amherst College holidays. The Mead Art Museum Website is at http://www.amherst.edu/~mead/. Call 413/542-2335 for more information.