ROOM WITH A VIEW

Small but spacious corner room with stunning view. High ceilings. Gleaming hardwood floor. Perfect spot for one or more.

Usually you pay more for a room with a view. Not at the Mead, though.

It costs nothing to step inside the Mead’s newly built room, situated in a corner of the main gallery, and enjoy a view of the Seine at sunrise in a village 50 miles outside Paris.

Claude Monet’s Morning on the Seine, Giverny (Matinée sur la Seine, 1897) is the single work of art installed in this room, which was constructed in the Mead’s main gallery as part of a renovation and reinstallation project that took place over the summer. “We designed the room as a space for contemplation,” says Mead director and chief curator David E. Little. “Visitors can sit in there and immerse themselves in one artwork.”

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From the doorway of the new room in the Mead’s main gallery, a peek at Monet’s Morning on the Seine (oil on canvas, bequest of Miss Susan Dwight Bliss, 1966.48). Photo by Cathryn Keefe

Monet’s Morning on the Seine will remain on view throughout the fall. Next semester, Little said, visitors will find a different work in the corner room.

How One Jazzy Intern Is Educating Audiences About Art

Eric Zhou is the education intern at the Mead this summer, working with Keely Sarr, the assistant educator on staff, to create “bonus features” for the the fall exhibitions — interpretive materials for audiences who want more information about the art on view. He is also building a WordPress website to hold the content he develops. Eric 1What’s it like being at Amherst over the summer? And what qualifies Eric as “jazzy”? Read on!

Name, class year: Eric Zhou, Class of 2019
Hometown: Shoreline, Washington, just north of Seattle
I’m contemplating majoring in history, classics, or biochemistry.
Internship projects: So far I’m developing a printed guide for young visitors to the Mead and an online handbook focusing on the ancient Greek collection. I’m also creating a page that will provide biographies of notable Americans in the collection, such as the actor Paul Robeson and writer Gertrude Stein, and a Prezi/timeline map of artworks that capture aspects of daily life shown in art.
Behind the scenes at the Mead I’ve discovered it takes a lot of work to create any sort of project. Also, that there is a rhyme and reason in how an exhibition is put together.

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Eric is creating an online handbook about the ancient Greek collection. Greek amphora, Archaic Period (ca. 520 BCE). Ceramic, black figure, 1950.59

My previous experience as an educator includes volunteering as a tutor in the Amherst public schools last year, in an after-school program called VELA Scholars.
Summer in Amherst gives me time to focus on what I like to do, without worrying about homework. And go out more.

Paul Robeson
One of the portraits that will be on view at the Mead this fall, and that Eric is researching, is Edward Steichen, “Paul Robeson as Emperor Jones, New York,” 1933. Gelatin silver print. 1985.59.4

 

 


Most people don’t know that I play alto sax. I was in the Amherst jazz combo Song X last year.
Next year I want to continue playing jazz, and I hope to play club soccer. 

Reflections from the Gallery Floor: Conversation with Derrek Joyce

“Museum guards find the lost, shepherd the confused and save runaway toddlers from impending collisions with immovable sculptures.” — David Wallis, “Varied Duties, and Many Facets, in a Guard’s Life,” New York Times, March 20, 2013

Soon after graduating from UMass Amherst in the spring of 2015, Derrek Joyce began working as an officer for Amherst College Museum Security. With a bachelor’s degree in classics and the goal of starting graduate work in art and museum studies in the next year or two, Derrek currently spends many days and nights (the Mead famously stays open until midnight during the academic year) patrolling the art galleries.

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Derrek Joyce, a security officer at the Mead Art Museum, seated in front of the Mead’s Roman sarcophagus (165–180 CE), a personal favorite. Photo by Maria Stenzel

A handful of major artists started out as museum guards, including Jackson Pollock, Sol LeWitt, and Mel Bochner. While an interest in art is a great asset on the job, it also helps to have good people skills and to enjoy chatting with museum visitors, something Derrek says he loves.

A challenge all museum guards face is anticipating the actions of children in the museum—and making sure there’s ample space between the kids and the art.

Boy running-crop
One child can seem like many to a security officer in an art museum. Harold Edgerton (American, 1903–1990), Child Running, 1996.97

Young visitors are always welcome, including large school groups, but sometimes, Derrek says, there’s just no predicting what they’re going to do next. “I watch children like a hawk,” he says, “regardless of how well-behaved they are.” 

Here’s what else we learned from our conversation with Derrek.

The Mead has become my second home because of the welcoming staff and environment and the number of hours I am physically here. 

As an aspiring museum curator, I regard talking with visitors one of the most fascinating parts of the job. On an average day I encounter anywhere from two to two hundred visitors, potentially more if we’re hosting a large event. Each day’s group is new and unpredictable.

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For a brief time in 1943, Jackson Pollock worked as a guard at New York’s Museum of Non-Objective Painting, which later became the Guggenheim. Photo by Hans Namuth

Students typically come to the Mead to study solo or in groups. Others come in on dates.

We occasionally see local celebrities, most notably Amherst College’s own President Biddy Martin and author and illustrator Eric Carle.

the shadow
Andy Warhol famously used diamond dust to add sparkle and glamour to silkscreen prints in the 1980s. It was someone’s job to make the dust. Andy Warhol (American, 1928–1987), The Shadow, 1985.71.e

Some visitors enjoy a quasi-celebrity status of their own, such as the woman who happened to come in shortly after Andy Warhol’s print The Shadow went on view and revealed to me that she had spent a period of her career creating diamond dust for Warhol.

My experience watching visitors to the Mead has made me truly see that there is no one style of art that everyone enjoys.

A work on view that I personally love is the Late Classical Roman Relief Fragment with dining hero or god. 

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This late classical sculpture rewards close looking. But a lot of visitors walk past it without so much as a glance. Marble relief fragment with dining hero or god, 380–320 BCE. Asia Minor (perhaps Turkey). S.1937.3. Photo by Maria Stenzel

I could spend hours gushing over how there is so much there in the faded stone, and yet not enough to properly identify the figure. Many visitors walk past it without a glance.

I once turned around just in time to see a child touch [19th-century painting]] The Fawn’s LeapAnother child on a school tour opened a hidden door in the Rotherwas Room, just minutes after explicitly being told not to touch the walls. One even did a dance I can only describe as a crab in a chorus line.