Amherst’s celebrated art museum unveils new exhibitions and installations showcasing the breadth, depth and diversity of the college art collection.
After undergoing two months of interior renovations, Amherst’s Mead Art Museum is set to unveil six new exhibitions and installations that offer a fresh perspective on the College’s distinguished art collection.
From recently acquired contemporary artworks to permanent collection objects, some of which haven’t been shown in more than a decade, the works on view encourage deep and immediate visitor engagement with art across centuries, continents and media.
“In the spirit of the liberal arts, we want to create a museum that sparks the imagination and inspires debate,” says David E. Little, Mead director and chief curator. “This reinstallation has been a pivotal opportunity to rethink the collection and allow us to engage students, professors and the public in new ways with art across time and the globe.”
The most dramatic renovations have taken place in the Mead’s main gallery, Fairchild Gallery, which has been opened up to reveal a bright, expansive and contemporary space. The exhibition on view, Accumulations: 5,000 Years of Objects, Fictions, and Conversations, presents selections from the Mead’s collection, and prompts viewers to consider how images and objects mediate the way we understand ourselves and the world around us.
The remaining galleries showcase curatorial reinterpretations of the Mead’s well-regarded holdings of African, American, European and Russian art.
American art, the foundation of Amherst's collection, is showcased in The American Collection: Two Centuries of Art at Amherst College. “George Dupont Pratt and Herbert Lee Pratt, two Amherst alumni who were brothers, donated hundreds of significant American artworks to the College in the 1930s and ’40s,” says Vanja Malloy, curator of American art. “The Mead opened to house those works, and hundreds more, in 1949.” Representing more than two centuries of American art and artistry, the works on view chart the early days in the building of a nation—and a museum.
The founding of museums is also a theme of Precious: Finding the Wondrous in the Mead's European Art Collection, organized by Nicola Courtright, William McCall Vickery 1957 Professor of the History of Art. The exhibition looks at how, in the past, European princes, scholars and merchants gathered objects that fascinated them. From these private collections, museums as we know them today emerged.
The Mead’s historic Rotherwas Room has also been reinstalled. Here, the works of Seattle-born, New York-based artist Amanda Valdez bring a new palette and iconography to the historic wood-paneled room. The exhibition—Rotherwas Project 1: Amanda Valdez, Ladies’ Night—marks the debut of The Rotherwas Project, a biannual series featuring works by contemporary artists from around the world.
More information about each of the exhibitions and installations on view is available at amherst.edu/mead.
All are invited to attend the opening and reception for the Mead’s new exhibitions and installations on Thursday, Sept. 8, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Mead Art Museum. Refreshments will be served. Admission to the Mead is always free of charge.