What I love about WCMA
I have worked at the Williams College Museum of Art for almost three years, and when I reflect on my favorite moments working here it makes me realize what a unique place WCMA is.
- When I came for my interview in 2009 the Niagara show was on. I was very impressed by the work of Katie Price, Curator of Special Projects. The William Morris Hunt work was in one gallery which portrayed the falls as beautiful and strong. In an adjacent gallery, Alec Soth photographs depicted the pawn shops, low-end motels, and honeymooners. The juxtaposition of the two sides of Niagara seemed brilliant to me. I also remember enjoying the extra touches in the exhibit like a Bennington pottery kitschy pitcher with an image of Niagara on it in the gallery with the William Morris Hunt work. I remember thinking that the installation of the Soth works was stunning, flawless, and perfectly lighted. I was really impressed with the museum even before I started working here.
- As I got to work on the IMLS ancient art digitization grant, I really appreciated the great diversity in the collection. The 13,000 objects at the Williams College Museum of Art span many centuries and range from objects that are actually frightening to objects that are so beautiful you could just stare at them all day. You never know what you are going to discover in the collection, and that is a big part of what makes it so fun for me.
- I’ve really enjoyed learning about the history of the museum as I answer scholarly requests. I have written several posts about donors. You never know what you are going to discover or what new questions will come into the foreground of one’s mind. Why did Cole Porter give objects to the museum? Who knew that a famous archaeologist who donated the Cuneiform tablets is buried nearby in North Adams? How was it that Maurice Prendergast knew the wife of the donor of our Assyrian reliefs? The museum has a rich history that is intertwined with events in the larger history of the the world (like World War II) as well as the history of the college.
- People who have worked at the Williams College Museum of Art and former Williams art history students have gone on to do great things, and you never know in what capacity you will encounter these individuals out in the world. It goes without saying that the Graduate Program in the History of Art at Williams is world class, and students and faculty contribute greatly to the museum. In my own experience, former graduate student Laura Lesswing (MA Art History Graduate, 2010) found out that an Egyptian shroud was mislabeled as a necklace. We also benefit from graduates of the program who stay in town afterwards and work here, including Katie Price whose Niagara exhibit I admired so much at my initial interview.
Because of the collection, rich history, and strong connections to faculty and students, I think there is always something new to discover, and so much to love about the Williams College Museum of Art.