So many seeds planted earlier this year—and long before—have come to bear fruit this semester. I am grateful for the hard work, thoughtful engagement, and generosity demonstrated by our WCMA colleagues and you, our greater community of friends and supporters, that have brought us to this inspiring moment.
The museum has been a vital hub of art and exhibitions since we reopened to the public in July. On view this fall are Sweaty Concepts, Repro Japan: Technologies of Popular Visual Culture, Remixing the Hall: WCMA’s Collection in Perpetual Transition, and Kameelah Janan Rasheed: Worshipping at the Altar of Certainty. Object Lab —which continued unabated throughout the pandemic closure—is a home this semester for chemists and dancers, ethnographers and art historians, percussionists and environmentalists. This gallery-classroom is also a perennial favorite of our visitors, whose enthusiasm for WCMA’s reopening has been delightful. On Williams’s annual Family Day in October, we welcomed over 350 visitors!
We are excited to reach new audiences around the world who discovered WCMA through our virtual programs over the past eighteen months, and to stay connected to those who already know and love the museum and for whom our online offerings have created a stronger sense of community and new ways of engaging with art and ideas. We’ve found we can serve our growing and diverse audiences through a combination of online and in-person opportunities. In that spirit, the Plonsker Family Lecture in Contemporary Art was a hybrid program this year. We welcomed Chemehuevi artist Cara Romero to campus to meet with students and faculty, see her work on view in the Sweaty Concepts exhibition, and visit our partner museums. Romero also delivered a truly remarkable lecture in person for a live online audience; we encourage you to watch the program video on our website.
Sharing new scholarship in a variety of formats is key to our mission, and reflected in our publication program. This year we published a catalogue for the fascinating summer exhibition Art and Propaganda: 1972 Munich Olympics, featuring an essay by guest curator Elissa Watters, MA ’18. On view through March 20, 2022, Repro Japan: Technologies of Popular Visual Culture is accompanied by a thoughtfully-designed gallery guide authored by Christopher Bolton, Williams College Professor of Comparative and Japanese Literature, and exhibition co-curators Panalee Maskati ’20, Eron Rauch, Diana Tolin, and Wei (Maggie) Wu, MA ‘19. Available now in our museum shop is Strict Beauty: Sol LeWitt Prints (2020), a gorgeous hardcover catalogue accompanying an exhibition by the same title, co-published by WCMA and the New Britain Museum of American Art. Curated by David S. Areford, Professor of Art History at the University of Massachusetts, Strict Beauty opens at WCMA on February 18, 2022. Not to be outdone, WCMA’s 2020–21 Agents for Creative Action, ever faithful to their chosen name, used a year of meeting remotely to collaborate on, design, and produce a collection-inspired coloring book, available for download or as a free gift welcoming visitors of all ages.
We are thrilled to report that we have taken a major step toward a new future home! In October, the Williams College Board of Trustees voted to move forward with the design phase of a new art museum on the former site of the Williams Inn. As President Mandel mentions in a recent article about the project from The Williams Record, “This is far more than a building. It’s the next step in Williams’ commitment to the vibrancy, relevance, and educational importance of the arts.” We are exceptionally fortunate that we can move forward to a new WCMA building without ever closing, thanks to being able to continue presenting exhibitions and making the collection accessible in Lawrence Hall, thus continuing our core mission of teaching and learning with art throughout the multi-year process. Look for more information about the museum building project on the WCMA and Williams College websites soon.
As we look forward together to an exciting year ahead, we extend a warm invitation to all friends of the museum to stay connected in a deeper way with our activities and community through the newly-launched WCMA pARTners program. This opportunity welcomes anyone who supports the museum financially with a donation of any amount ($1–$1million), to engage and stay connected through more frequent communications, regional and virtual activities throughout the year, and an annual convening on campus. If you have already made a commitment, thank you! And if you have not yet and are able, please consider making a gift and getting involved.
Thank you for being a part of the WCMA community and for making the museum a part of your life.
Class of 1956 Director
P.S. I encourage you to browse further highlights from the 2020-2021 Academic Year in the museum’s interactive Impact Report.