Art as a campus institution

The art community in the wider world may be feeling the strain of a stagnant economy, but here in the Purple Valley – much to the benefit of the College and community – we are pleased to see that the arts are alive and well.

WMCA recently announced plans for the reinstallation of 10 of its 13 galleries, a reorganization that will bring to the museum 50 objects on loan from Yale. This fresh take on WCMA’s permanent collection and method of presentation is innovative and exciting for students, faculty and museum staff alike. While WCMA will be closed to the public from mid December to early February to complete these renovations, the Rose Gallery will remain open, reflecting an awareness of the ongoing educational need for accessing artwork. WCMA’s thoughtfulness is admirable, reflecting the College art department’s emphasis on both openness and inventiveness. Such care and continued reexamination are doubtless contributors to a top-notch program that has churned out many of the world’s top curators and scholars.

WCMA is a beloved part of the College for art students and non-artists alike – in our rural outpost of Massachusetts, our enormous cultural opportunities are a draw for students, faculty and visitors. The College itself echoes this attention to the visual arts, most recently through its commission of a Jenny Holzer sculpture to be installed in the Science Quad this spring. The new work is a commendable addition to the College’s existing outdoor sculpture collection, a beloved aspect of our campus, and its appeal is enhanced by its interdisciplinary nature. The sculpture promises to be a space where many can find something to appreciate: Scientists will be able to point out 1000 different engraved chemical structures while artists admire their intricate and aesthetically pleasing layout. What better way to bridge the disciplines?

Those whose memories of campus art are blurred into First Days or prefrosh visits ought to take the next month to visit WCMA before its partial closures or visit a few of the more remote sculptures before they become submerged in snow. Free art of WCMA’s caliber and convenience is rare in the real world, and WCMA works hard to bring prominent and provocative artists and exhibits. In the coming months, WCMA’s reorganization of its collection can be a renaissance in art appreciation for all members of the community.