AMHERST, Mass.-The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has awarded Amherst College's Mead Art Museum a $1,000,000 matching grant to endow its Coordinator of College Programs position and thereby ensure the continuation of the museum's successful initiatives to integrate the college's art collection meaningfully into its curriculum. As a condition of the grant, Amherst College has committed to raise a minimum of $1,000,000 within three years. The college seeks to raise an additional $500,000 to underwrite the museum-based academic programs, overseen by the Coordinator, that engage 90 percent of Amherst's student body each year.
The matching grant follows a previous grant of $500,000 that the Foundation awarded to the Mead in December 2008 to create a position for a Coordinator of College Programs, a museum-based scholar charged with spurring and facilitating curricular engagement with the collection. The 2008 grant also launched an ongoing series of semiannual faculty seminars in which visiting experts "teach the teachers" about specific areas of the college's wide-ranging, fine-quality art collection; established stipends for faculty guest curators of collection-based exhibitions; and piloted a program of two-year post-baccalaureate curatorial fellowships.
"In the three brief but busy years since the museum received its first grant from the Mellon Foundation, the initiatives that it funded have transformed teaching and research at Amherst," noted Elizabeth Barker, the Mead's director and chief curator. "Classes from virtually every academic discipline now regularly use the Mead's collections in a range of inquiries-from exploring medieval systems of musical notation to considering our genetic ties to other animals; from researching artists' materials to investigating the world's religious traditions. The Foundation's new grant-the largest in our museum's history-promises to ensure that this extraordinary recent success will come to be seen as the baseline, rather than as the high watermark, for this innovative work."
Gregory Call, Amherst College's dean of the faculty, observed, "With this exceptional grant from the Mellon Foundation and the generous assistance of other supporters, Amherst will claim a leadership position among 21st-century academic art museums by serving as a laboratory for the creative, often visionary, interdisciplinary inquiries that lie at the heart of a liberal arts education."
Added Barker: "Anyone interested in learning more about this exciting opportunity to partner with the Mellon Foundation in endowing this critically important position should feel welcome to contact me directly at 413-542-2295. With help from our dedicated supporters, I know we'll reach our goal and ensure that the Mead is able to provide uninterrupted academic services, now and for every generation of Amherst students to come."
Information about the museum's educational initiatives, including a list of all college classes that have used the Mead's resources for teaching in recent years and the specific objects they studied, is available on the Mead's website:www.amherst.edu/mead. The Mead Art Museum houses the art collection of Amherst College, spanning 5,000 years and encompassing the creative achievements of many world cultures. An accredited member of the American Association of Museums, the Mead participates in Museums10, a regional cultural collaboration. The museum and its gift shop-café are open Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. year-round, and until midnight on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday during the academic term. For more information, please visit www.amherst.edu/mead or call 413-542-2335.