The first thing that visitors to the Williams College Museum of Art will likely notice is Louise Bourgeois’ 2001 sculpture, Eyes (Nine Elements), which was commissioned as part of the museum’s 75th anniversary. Another variation on a frequent Bourgeois theme, the sculpture’s title is accurate – it’s a collection of giant eyes, some bronze and some granite, two of which are set into the ground next to the museum’s main path. At night, the pupils light up. It’s a fitting introduction to the quirky WCMA, a teaching museum dedicated to instruction through art as well as about it.
WCMA tends to structure its exhibitions within a broader social and historical context, allowing for a fuller understanding of the material; recent examples include Prelude to a Nightmare: Art, Politics and Hitler’s Early Years in Vienna and Moving Pictures: American Art and Early Film, 1890-1910. The museum also draws guest curators from outside the art world – like head football coach Aaron Kelton – on occasion, in service to the search for newer, fresher ways of looking at art.
The manageable collection – roughly 13,000 pieces, including the world’s largest assemblage of work by the post-Impressionists Charles and Maurice Prendergast – is distributed among 14 galleries. There are also ten sculptures on outdoor display around campus. (JM)
Williams College Museum of Art (Williamstown, MA) Information
- Public Transportation: Good (a short walk from BRTA buses 2 and 7 at Main Street/Southworth Street)
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good
- Hours: Tuesday–Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m.; Sunday 1 p.m.–5 p.m.; closed Mondays and most major holidays
- Admission: Free
- Tour: Offered Tuesday–Friday 10 a.m.–11:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.–2 p.m. Tours typically run 1.5 hours
- Membership: Individual membership is $30 (Dual/Family $50). Benefits include up to a 20% discount at the Museum Shop (excluding consignment products); an exhibition and education program schedule; invitations to members-only events; recognition in the museum’s Annual Report; and participation in the Academic Art Museum Reciprocal Program.