2/16/17 - 8/20/17

Christina Olsen, Class of '56 Director of the Williams College Museum of Art

Kerry Bickford, Class of 2017, Graduate Program in the History of Art

Between 1960 and 1962, WCMA acquired 396 works of art, including ancient Egyptian amulets, Chinese Qing dynasty vases, William Morris Hunt’s majestic painting of Niagara Falls, and much, much more. As with all objects that enter the collection, the museum assigned them a code when they arrived—called an accession number—that recorded both the year and sequence of their acquisition. Using accession numbering as a display strategy, Accession Number poses different questions: What did the museum prioritize, why, and what did it overlook? Which works of art do we still value today? And finally how do we infer meaning from this or any archive? We explore this last question in a nearby installation that lets the public curate a digital display.

The iPad interface was designed and programmed by Duane A. Bailey, Professor of Computer Science, with the assistance of Williams College students—Julia Kawano ’19, Evelyn Mahon ’18, and Javier Esparza ’20, with server-side programming and database support from David W. Keiser-Clark, Academic Application Developer at the Office for Information Technology.

Selected works