Mead Wins Three New England Museum Association Awards 




August 5, 2014
Rachel Rogol, 413-542-2295


AMHERST, Mass. - The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College was recently awarded the top prize for its website by the New England Museum Association, and received second-place awards for the exhibition catalogue Picturing Enlightenment and the "Dig Into Art" activity totes for children at the museum.


The awards were given as part of the 2014 NEMA Publication Award Competition. In announcing the winners, NEMA's executive director Dan Yaeger called this year's contest "tremendously competitive," with 57 museums vying for awards.


"We are thrilled to be recognized in three different categories, each of which speaks to our efforts to attract and engage diverse audiences," noted Pamela Russell, the Mead's head of education. "Our catalogue for the landmark exhibition of Tibetan tangka offered new insights to scholars yet also clearly interpreted the luminous works for those with little background in the topic. The fun, archaeology-themed activity totes provide an entertaining way for our smallest, yet often most curious, visitors to explore our galleries. Above all, our website is a welcoming portal to all of the Mead's resources, and it is very rewarding that its compelling design was given top honors. We are extremely proud of the many staff members who contributed to these significant accomplishments."


The Mead's award-winning website is designed and maintained by Rachel Rogol, executive assistant to the director and media & marketing coordinator at the museum. Rogol says, "Since 2012, the Mead's website has been wholly renovated; we've updated the content, restructured navigation, and rejuvenated its overall appearance by adding brighter, engaging images. While we still update and make improvements to the site on a regular basis, our goal is to ensure that it remains both useful and attractive to online visitors of all ages."


The website features an intuitive design and abundant links that lead users to explore the online illustrated catalogue of the museum's collection, the full calendar of public events and exhibitions, a frequently updated blog, and more. Among the other award recipients in the website category, the Mead stands out as the only one with a website produced entirely in-house.


Winning second place in the category of exhibition catalogues, Picturing Enlightenment: Tibetan Tangkas in the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College was written by Smith College professor of art and East Asian Studies Marylin Rhie, who curated the Mead's 2011 Tibetan tangka show, and designed by Betsey Wolfson, a freelance Pioneer Valley designer who works at the University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMass Amherst. The catalogue contains images of Amherst's 18 Tibetan scroll paintings, which underwent extensive conservation in the year and a half leading up to the show, and essays by noted scholars in the field.  Writing for the Wall Street Journal, Ilaria Maria Sala, based in Hong Kong, called publication of the catalogue "a momentous event," in light of the rarity of Tibetan art outside of China, where it's been "long under siege."


The "Dig Into Art" totes, second-place winner in the category "Educational Publications, Materials and Kits," were designed by Wendy Somes, until recently the coordinator of community programs at the Mead. She had the museum's youngest visitors in mind when she came up with the idea for the totes, which can be borrowed for free in the Mead's lobby and contain everything a child needs to dress up and explore the galleries as an archaeologist digging for ancient art and artifacts. The kit includes a pith helmet and explorer vest, a book about Greek mythology, and a field-guide notebook to record observations in and take home. "Dig Into Art" was the first tote in the series, debuting in the fall of 2013. A second tote, with a medieval theme, was added in early 2014.


The Mead is an active member of NEMA, based in Arlington, Mass., a professional organization that supports museums in the six New England states. NEMA's annual Publication Awards Program, according to its website, "recognizes excellence in design, production, and effective communication in all aspects of museum publishing. Entries are judged by a panel experienced in publication, design, marketing and communications. Awards are given to those entries which most effectively present their message to the intended audience."



Situated in the vibrant Five Colleges academic community in Western Massachusetts, the Mead Art Museum serves as a laboratory for interdisciplinary research and innovative teaching involving original works of art. An accredited member of the American Alliance 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, including a searchable catalogue of the collection and a complete schedule of exhibitions and events, visit our website,


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