January 28, 2009     
Elizabeth Barker
Director and Chief Curator, Mead Art Museum

AMHERST, Mass.—The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Amherst College’s Mead Art Museum a $500,000 grant, to be used over three years, to strengthen the academic role of the museum’s collections and programs.

The grant will enable the Mead to create the full-time position of coordinator of college programs, whose primary mandate will be to expand the Mead’s efforts to engage faculty in teaching with original works of art. The coordinator will also work closely with the museum’s curatorial staff to increase awareness of Amherst’s art collection as a cross-disciplinary resource for teaching and research. Mellon funds will allow the Mead immediately to hire Susan Anderson, a researcher at Harvard University’s Fogg Art Museum, as interim coordinator of college programs, with a national search for a permanent coordinator to follow.

In addition, the grant will support course-development seminars in which Five College faculty will develop strategies for integrating specific portions of Amherst’s wide-ranging art collection into their classes; stipends for faculty guest curators of major exhibitions at the Mead; and two-year post-baccalaureate curatorial fellowships for exceptionally promising recent Five College graduates from any field of study.

“This prestigious grant endorses Amherst College’s commitment to using its art collection to its fullest potential,” said Elizabeth Barker, director and chief curator of the Mead.  “The Mellon Foundation’s generous support will allow Amherst to deploy its wonderful art collection in the service of pedagogical innovation—to spur bold leaps in interdisciplinary liberal arts education, as well as in museum work.”

In receiving the grant, Amherst joins a select group of educational institutions that the Mellon Foundation has, over the past decade, included in its College and University Art Museum Program, among which are museums at the University of Chicago, Cornell, Dartmouth, Emory, Harvard, the University of Kansas, Oberlin, RISD, Rutgers, Smith, Wellesley, Williams and  Yale. A summary report on the Mellon Foundation College and University Art Museum program is available on-line: http://mac.mellon.org/CUAM.

The Mead Art Museum houses the art collection of Amherst College, totaling more than 16,000 works. An accredited member of the American Association of Museums, the Mead participates in Museums10, a regional cultural collaboration. During the academic term, the Mead Art Museum is open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to midnight and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday. For more information, please visit the museum’s Web site, www.amherst.edu/museums/mead, or call 413/542-2335.