Each July and August the Williams College Museum of Art (WCMA) produces Summer School, a series of public programs that teases out new ways of thinking about learning, art, community, and museums. This summer, the series offers a playful taste of college culture taking inspiration from unconventional archives and the quirkiest kinds of libraries. It’s a weekly mashup of mini courses, extracurriculars on WCMA’s patio, a lending library, and pop-up programming in the museum’s Reading Room.
Each week, Williams faculty and local experts lead hour-long mini courses in the galleries. These talks explore the museum’s collection, exhibitions, and spaces through the lens of libraries and archives: perfumers inspired by the scent library at Versailles create scents for works on view; a professor of english discusses Robert Rauschenberg’s use of archival materials, copyright law, and originality; the custodian of Harvard’s pigment archive digs into the art and science of color.
The museum’s patio becomes the place for extracurricular fun with music, drinks, games, and street-food inspired bites from CRISP Event Planning & Catering. Offerings will change weekly featuring; artisanal popcorn and pretzels, an oyster bar, mini cheese plates, steamed buns, tacos, and more. A specialty cocktail or mocktail will be available, along with wine and beer provided by the Spirit Shop.
Two special programs will pop up on the patio. The Brooklyn-based Sketchbook Project—the world’s largest collection of artist sketchbooks—brings its mobile library to WCMA’s doorstep. Described as “a food truck, but for books,” visitors can search the collection database of over 2,500 sketchbooks made by artists from all over the world, chat with the project’s founders, and borrow a sketchbook to peruse. An Old School Screening of vintage educational films is curated from archives by Images Cinema. Historical and hysterical, this collection of classic shorts from the fifties through today lights up the last night of Summer School.
In the Reading Room, the Summer Seminar gives a deeper look into some of the books submitted to People’s Library—a community-sourced archive of titles growing in response to the question “What book is helping you understand the world right now?” The bi-weekly lunchtime reading group will dig into a range of books from Dr. Seuss to Margaret Atwood with discussions led by Williams faculty. Twice a week a WCMA staff member will serve as the Librarian-In-Residence in People’s Library, offering reading suggestions and answering questions. There will be games, picnic blankets, and books to check out and use on campus all summer long.
Programs are free and open to all.
Summer School: The Library & The Archive
A summertime slice of campus life.
July 6-Aug 24
Thursdays, 5 pm
Get schooled with Williams faculty and local experts in the galleries.
WTF+WCMA: The Dramaturge
July 6, 5 pm
A live reading of a new play by Williamstown Theatre Festival actors brings to life the archive of sources that contextualize the script.
Oral Archives + Lex and Love
Annie Valk, Associate Director for Public Humanities and Lecturer in History
July 13, 5 pm
Explore Meleko Mokgosi’s use of language and the unexpected connections between narrative painting and traditions of oral history.
Robert Rauschenberg: Appropriating the Archive
Gage McWeeny, Associate Professor of English
July 20, 5 pm
Consider how originality, copyright, and imitation play out in Robert Rauschenberg’s artwork.
The Pigment Library
Narayan Khandekar, Custodian of the Forbes Pigment Library at Harvard University
July 27, 5 pm
A look at the fascinating history of color and the science of pigments.
Object Not Found: A Reading
Aug 3, 5 pm
Local writers read original works that imagine the lives of objects no longer present in the museum’s collection.
Christopher Draghi and Robert Dobay, Perfumers and Founders of Source Adage NYC
Aug 10, 5 pm
Inspired by the scent library housed in Versailles, this multi-sensory tour transforms works in our collection into scents.
Ken Greene, Founder of the Hudson Valley Seed Library
Aug 17, 5 pm
Go from seed to canvas and dig into representations of plants in WCMA’s collection.
Space As Archive
Lisa Conathan, Head of Special Collections at the Williams College Libraries
Aug 24, 5 pm
Spaces act as archives of their own. What histories remain visible and what others disappear?
Play on our patio: drinks, snacks, & serendipity.
Thursdays, 6-8 pm
The Sketchbook Project
Thursday, July 13, 3-8 pm
The largest collection of artist sketchbooks in the world comes to WCMA’s doorstep. Check out a selection of titles created by photographers, painters, architects, designers, and illustrators from over 135 countries.
Old School Screening
Thursday, Aug 24, 7 pm
Vintage educational shorts pulled from archives by Images Cinema.
Wednesdays, July 12, 26 & Aug 9, 23, 12 pm
Come for lemonade and a lunchtime chat about books submitted to People’s Library in response to the question: What book is helping you understand the world right now?
Discussions led by Williams faculty. Here’s what we are reading this summer:
Yertle The Turtle by Dr. Seuss
Janneke van de Stadt, Professor of Comparative Literature
On Immunity: An Inoculation by Eula Biss
Damian Turner, Professor of Biology
Thank You For Being Late by Thomas Friedman
Steven Nafziger, Professor of Economics
The Handmaid’s Tale By Margaret Atwood
Alison Case, Professor of English and Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies
Tuesdays and Fridays, 1-3 pm
Stop by the Reading Room to ponder the philosophical and personal with our librarian-in-residence.
The Lending Library
During open hours
Borrow a game, a picnic blanket, or a book to enjoy inside or outside the museum.