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Category: Behind-the-Scenes

The Life of an Object


At WCMA, we are constantly learning about our permanent collection. With more than 13,000 objects, there is always something for us to research. Objects accumulate new information over time and since we are charged with caring for works in our collection, we are responsible for tracking the “life of an object.”

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Eye Can See Clearly Now

Lousie Bourgeois, Multi-Eye, 2001_cleaning1

“The eyes are the window of the soul, reflecting feelings and truth. They are the best way to communicate with the world, with others.”
—Louise Bourgeois
The conservation team from Modern Art Foundry cleaned the silver-nitrate patina on the bronze Eyes in front of WCMA, May 31, 2012.

In 2001, the 75th anniversary of the Williams College Museum of Art, the museum commissioned Eyes, a public art installation by Louise Bourgeois.

WCMA worked with Bourgeois, her studio, and the Office of Dan Kiley, Landscape…

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Digitization Conference Presentation in D.C.


Last week Rachel Tassone and I went to Washington D.C. to present about our Prendergast Digitization Project at a conference. We learned a good amount from our colleagues and were excited to get the word out about our project.

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Art of the Month Club: Jim Gipe

Anonymous, Intaglio with seated angel, Anonymous gift. (93.1.44)

I am one of a handful of people who has seen, handled, photographed, studied, and marveled over every ancient object in the museum’s collection as part of WCMA’s ongoing digital imaging project. That’s more than 2,000 objects, and among them the beads are the smallest.

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This Week in the Museum’s History

Facsimile of the alabaster head of King Mankaure in the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston

During World War II, works from the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston were stored at the Williams College Museum of Art, and the MFA was so grateful to the museum for keeping their objects safe during wartime they gave us a facsimile Egyptian head and let us put on a paintings exhibition of their works which were not normally loaned out.

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Backstage—Museum Models: Students Take On Celebrated Architects

Exhibitions are somewhat similar to theatrical performances.  Audience members revel in the final production—often unaware of all the staging and preparation that occurs beforehand and behind-the-scenes.

Though Museum Models: Students Take On Celebrated Architects has been on view at WCMA for two months, its history is even longer.  Featuring nearly 100 models produced over a decade in Williams College Professor Ann McCallum’s architectural design courses, this exhibition highlights student creativity and explores a layering of architectural history, pedagogic practice, and educational…

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Watching People, Watch people watch art…

Inspiration has a funny way of stepping right up to your face and telling you to “LOOK!”

I was wandering the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA), feasting my eyes on some conceptual candy, when I paused to take in my surroundings. There was art—everywhere. There were people, scattered and stooped, pondering like myself over each framed spectacle. Then, there were the guards, whose presence dissipated and reappeared.

The longer I gazed, the more the gallery came to life. The paintings waited…

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Cosmetics & Fashion in the Ancient Collection

A couple of summers ago, our Williams student intern Chelsea Church ’12 helped me move artwork as part of our IMLS funded ancient art digitization project.  She got very excited about many of the fashion accessory items, especially the ancient Greek gold jewelry. She got so excited in fact, that she ran up to the museum’s PR department so that she could show her friend, who was also working as an intern, just how beautiful these pieces were. As we…

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African Americans and the American Scene: Behind-the-Scenes

By Dalila Scruggs, Mellon Curatorial Fellow for Diversity in the Arts
The official opening reception for my exhibition African Americans and the American Scene, 1929-1945 is today!

After several months of research, writing, and planning, my co-curator Sandra Burton and I finally installed our exhibition African Americans and the American Scene, 1929-1945 over the course of one hectic week. On Monday the galleries were empty—“fresh, with no mistakes in them” (as Anne of Green Gables might say). And by Friday night, all…

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Love & Romance

As Valentine’s Day approaches, we can look to the museum’s collection for portrayals of love and romance. Some of my personal favorites include: “La Declaration d’amour” by Jean François de Troy (circa 1724), Robert Indiana’s “Love” series (1982), and a Peruvian ceramic blackware entitled “Two Lovers” (19th century). I also find the photograph “Le Muguet du metro” (1953)  by Robert Doisneau interesting because while it seems romantic that the woman is holding a bouquet of flowers, the couple’s relationship looks very…

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