Submitted by Patricia M. Allen

February 6, 2008
Contact: Karen Cardinal
Mead Art Museum


AMHERST, Mass.—The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College will host a new series of free, lunchtime gallery talks most Tuesdays and Fridays during the spring academic term, starting Friday, Feb. 15. Each “Ten Minutes with a Masterpiece” talk will be presented by a student in the museum’s volunteer docent program and will offer a fresh look at a single artwork in the collection.

As Elizabeth Barker, director and chief curator of the Mead, noted, “The project should be a win-win for students and the community. Visitors will have the chance to learn something new about a familiar object in an informal event scheduled to suit their lunch breaks, and docents will be able to share some of the knowledge they’ve gathered about the museum’s collection but couldn’t quite fit onto their wall labels!”

Barker explained that the talks represent the culmination of a yearlong project undertaken by the docents. Each student has “adopted” a work of art and found different ways to share it with visitors—by preparing interpretive wall labels, writing “Pick of the Week” campus newspaper features and recording commentary for a forthcoming podcast audio tour. Suzannah Luft ’08, the museum’s lead docent and a double major in chemistry and art and art history, observed, “These projects have given us the opportunity to gain insight about our particular piece and then share our knowledge and excitement with museum visitors.”

Each “Ten Minutes” talk will be held at the Mead Art Museum from noon to 12:10 p.m. and will be followed by light refreshments. No talks will be repeated, and visitors are encouraged to attend them all. Dates of the talks are Feb. 15, 19, 22, 26 and 29; March 4, 7, 11, 25 and 28; April 1, 4, 8, 11, 15, 18, 22 and 25 and May 2.

The Mead Art Museum holds an encyclopedic collection of more than 16,000 works of art, including American and European old master paintings, ancient Assyrian carvings, African sculpture, Japanese prints and Mexican ceramics. Five galleries display regularly refreshed selections from the permanent collection. From Feb. 28 through June 8, 2008, the museum will present The Third Space: Cultural Identity Today, a special loan exhibition of contemporary videos, paintings, photographs and mixed-media works that explore cultural identity in a global society. The museum is free, fully accessible and open to the public Tuesdays through Sundays, 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., and Thursdays until 9 p.m. To learn more, visit