So, the recent thread on the Williams College Museum of Art has piqued my curiosity. I have visited the museum several times, and was duly impressed. It is a beautiful space, well-run, well-endowed, and obviously well-utilized by the college and the community. There were numerous comments that pointed out the ways in which this is so, but one in particular (by occasional commenter and Williams Art History major, Suz), gave me the understanding of just how vital the museum is as a center of learning, not only to the art program at Williams, but to the local schools as well. She says:

I think there are about 10 grade school tours a week and about 30 undergraduate tour guides. Also every 101/102 class at Williams makes extensive use of WCMA. I was even able to write for my first publication through WCMA, namely through my class with Prof. Gerrard on fakes and a related show at WCMA. WCMA is a huge resource for the college and for the surrounding community. Its closing would be the equivalent of closing all of the chem labs and telling all of the chemistry students to just get by on lectures and theory, then expecting them to go out and work in a top lab or in a top graduate program.

And, over at WCMA’s website, I see this same idea clearly stated in the “History” of the museum:

Karl Weston, the museum’s founder and first director, established the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) in 1926 to provide Williams College students with the opportunity for firsthand observation of fine works of art, a privilege he maintained was essential to the study of art. 

And later, former student, Lane Faison, carried on in Weston’s footsteps, adding to the museum’s collection, expanding the faculty of the art department, and enriching the program to the extent that it has produced some of the most highly regarded curators and art historians in the country. But that is another story, and one with which most of you are familiar.

What I am interested in exploring here, is the museum, the role it has played for students, visitors, and community members. And, of course, the art within. Suz also mentioned “how utterly priceless” is their permanent collection . (I will try and post an image from the collection every now and then, just for a bit of visual enjoyment.)

So, any comments are welcome, whether they be of memories of a visit to the museum, an art class experience, anecdotes about the rich history of art at the college, or just about art in general. Anything goes.

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