About Letter, Photo by Elizabeth Leitzell

Williams College Museum of Art Announces Reinstallation of Ten Museum Galleries

For immediate release: November 10, 2010

The Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) announced its plans today to re-present its collection in ten of its thirteen galleries. Opening over the course of several months, WCMA will celebrate the project’s completion with a free, public reception at the museum on Thursday, April 7, beginning at 5 p.m. All are invited to attend.

The reinstallation is a museum-wide project that consists of eight related exhibitions in ten galleries, all of which take “the museum” as their subject. The project will be on view at WCMA for approximately three years.

Over the past eighteen months, the museum staff has been re-examining its collection of approximately 13,000 objects and re-thinking what it means to present art in the context of a museum on a liberal arts campus. The reinstallation is an opportunity to re-discover WCMA and what makes it unique: its commitment to raising questions about the function and meaning of art across time and cultures and the role of museums in shaping understandings of art.

In addition, fifty objects on loan from the Yale University Art Gallery, selected by the Williams College art department faculty and museum staff, will be featured. They range from Japanese screens and ancient Greek art, to sculpture by Brancusi and Giacometti, to paintings by Thomas Eakins, Paul Klee, and Pablo Picasso. These loans are part of a collection-sharing project initiated by the Yale University Art Gallery. WCMA is one of five other college museums participating in this project. Yale loans are being funded, in part, through a grant made to Yale by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

Each gallery will feature prominent works from WCMA’s collection, including iconic paintings such as Grant Wood’s Death on the Ridge Road (1935) and Edward Hopper’s Morning in a City (1944), as well as works of art that have rarely been on display, such as Etruscan, Meso-American, and Islamic objects. The breadth of the reinstallation will allow a greater range of the museum’s diverse collection to be displayed. While many works may be familiar to museum visitors, the ways in which they will be presented are fresh, innovative, and thought-provoking.

“The collection is the heart of a museum,” says WCMA Director Lisa Corrin. “For the past several years our staff has worked diligently to make the museum’s collection accessible through our website. The reinstallation is the next step in fulfilling our primary goal of focusing resources on presenting, studying, interpreting, developing, and caring for the museum’s collection.”

Says Corrin, “We are thrilled to be working with the Yale University Art Gallery once again after our successful collaborations on the LeWitt wall drawing retrospective at MASS MoCA and the exhibition Making It New: The Art and Style of Sara and Gerald Murphy. These projects have drawn our institutions together and have provided tremendous teaching and learning opportunities for our faculty and students. Yale’s willingness to lend some of the great treasures of its collection to Williams has added immeasurably to our ability to support teaching with the collection, especially in areas where our collection is limited. Jock Reynolds, Director of the Yale University Art Gallery, and his curatorial team really understand the importance of sharing objects and expertise to enrich the education of the next generation of scholars and museum professionals.”

To prepare for this transformation of the museum’s galleries, WCMA and its museum shop will temporarily close to the public on December 13, 2010. The museum will open again to the public on February 3, 2011. Galleries that are part of the reinstallation project will continue to open over the course of several months, with all exhibitions open for viewing by April 7, 2011.

The first gallery of the reinstallation, Art Re: Art, opened on October 23. Featuring 30 works from the museum’s collection, Art Re: Art looks at works that take art itself as its subject. An array of artists—from Pablo Picasso and Andy Warhol to Cindy Sherman and Wang Qingsong—are featured. Art Re: Art offers viewers an opportunity to re-consider the difference between re-interpretation and re-production in art.