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.”
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.
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. What’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.
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.
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 tocontinue playing jazz, and I hope to play club soccer.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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]] TheFawn’s Leap. Another 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.