May 27, 2015

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David E. Little is the Mead Art Museum’s new director.

Following a highly competitive national search, Amherst College’s Mead Art Museum has named a new director.

David E. Little, curator and head of the Department of Photography and New Media at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (MIA), will assume the helm of the Mead on Aug. 31.

An experienced teacher and administrator, Little brings 25 years of knowledge and expertise to the position, said Catherine Epstein, dean of the faculty at Amherst. “He is a skilled curator and creator of successful exhibitions, has extensive experience using art collections for educational and curricular goals and has proven himself an adept administrator and fundraiser,” she said. “I am confident he will significantly increase the Mead’s value as a resource of art and education for our campus and community.”

Geology professor and Beneski Museum of Natural History Director Tekla Harms, who co-chaired the search committee, added that she and her colleagues were impressed with Little’s ideas and the energy he will bring to the College.

“It is very exciting to have someone with David’s contemporary vision coming to the Mead,” she said. “Under his leadership, the museum will surely grow as a locus of curricular innovation, scholarship and dialogue for students, staff and faculty.”

In his current role at the MIA, Little oversees the institute’s photography collection and is responsible for advancing scholarship through exhibitions and related publications, and for securing endowments and gifts from donors, among many other duties. He was previously associate director and Helena Rubinstein Chair of Education at the Whitney Museum of American Art and, before that, director of adult and academic programs at the Museum of Modern Art. In all of these roles, he has focused on education, including by organizing public programs with a wide array of established and emerging artists.

Little also has extensive teaching experience. He served Duke University for six years (1999-2005) as an adjunct professor in leadership and the arts in New York City, teaching courses on contemporary art, introducing students to permanent collections in the city’s major art museums and mentoring young art professionals who have since gone on to thriving careers. He was a lecturer with the Maryland Institute College of Art from 2000 to 2003 and in the Museum of Modern Art’s Department of Education from 1996 to 2000. He has three degrees in art history: he earned his Ph.D. from Duke in 2001, his master’s from Williams in 1992 and his bachelor’s from Bowdoin in 1985.

“I am delighted to assume the post of Director and Chief Curator of the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College,” said Little. “This is a particularly exciting moment for college and university museums to embolden the campus and curriculum with art, engage artists to innovate across disciplines and provide broad cultural platforms by which ideas can be discussed and debated. I very much look forward to participating in Amherst’s dynamic and diverse community.”

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