A Message from Director Pamela Franks

May 22, 2020

Dear friends,

I begin this message in the way we have been starting our weekly museum staff meetings, with a moment of reflection for those we have lost in this pandemic, and for the hardships endured by many, and also to express gratitude, for our front-line workers, our communities, our Williams College colleagues and museum colleagues worldwide, and everyone sacrificing to keep us healthy and sustained.

My work as a curator and museum director has always been inspired by the power of art to bring people together, and the opportunities art offers for education, reflection, and transformation. I am delighted to share that our education and engagement teams swiftly transitioned to supporting faculty and students in remote teaching and learning—facilitating virtual object study classroom sessions, access to high-resolution images of artwork on view in Object Lab, and support of student and faculty projects. This work is genuinely exciting. It is rooted in our educational mission and requires the dynamism and flexible thinking that are hallmarks of the museum’s program and identity. It empowers us for the future, as we both teach and learn from the students, who are the resilient leaders of tomorrow.

The student collective Agents for Creative Action conducted a series of video interviews with museum staff from their homes around the world. Look for those on our YouTube channel soon. Graduate interns Selin Ozulkulu and Zoe Dobuler led an Instagram takeover from Istanbul and Boston, respectively. And many of our student interns have taken turns leading in a series of online close-looking sessions for museum staff on Friday afternoons.

Over the next few weeks, we look forward to sharing more with you, in the form of a variety of opportunities to engage with the museum online. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Twitter to stay in touch and up to date on the latest news. We invite you to connect with us to let us know how you’re doing, what you miss with the galleries closed, what is bringing you joy in these times, and whatever else you’d like to share.

One of my great joys over the past couple of months has been reaching out to and hearing from college and university art museum colleagues, WCMA supporters, regional arts partners, and old friends. There is such solidarity within the art community, united in our passion for art’s central place in the human experience. For the first time in decades, I am not spending regular time in an art museum and I find myself turning to art books as a way to connect with art and artists, a happy diversion and lovely alternative to screen time.

We are thinking of you, and looking forward to when we can safely reunite. In the meantime, feel free to email me at [email protected] with any ideas you have for how the museum can serve our audiences during this time and beyond. Explore our website to engage with the collection, enjoy new content, and access free resources. Be well. Be connected. Be creative. Be safe.

Warmly,

Pamela Franks
Class of 1956 Director