When a new exhibit opens in the Schiltkamp Gallery in the Traina, it’s hard to imagine it in relation to the outside art world – as something more than a space outside classrooms that happens to be a gallery. It’s hard to imagine someone from the greater community visiting our campus and not thinking of the Traina as a building for students, but exclusively as a building in which to enjoy art.
Recently, I had the opportunity to have such an experience at the Williams College Museum of Art in Williamstown, MA. It’s not fair to compare their museum with our quaint Traina Center, but it does invite one to imagine what other schools are doing with their arts programs.
According to their website, the school’s museum has an impressive 13,000 pieces and 14 galleries. Their collection spans many periods and places, including Egypt, India, and Africa. One of their exhibits, A Collection of Histories, takes on a meta-commentary concerning museum art, making the venue of viewing art its focus. There is also more contemporary work including photography and works by Georgia O’Keefe and Gregory Crewdson, among others.
The architecture of the museum itself was also noteworthy. Upon entering, a large display of Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing #959 runs along the staircase, and windows and skylights appear throughout the galleries. Outside, the surrounding landscape has also been dotted with art. Louise Bourgeois’s outdoor sculpture, Eyes, watch as you approach the building. It is a permanent piece commissioned for the museum’s 75th anniversary, celebrated in October 2001.
Another piece on display at the Williams College Museum of Art was a stunning photomanipulation by Dionisio Gonzalez. The artist took photos of the dilapidated structures and homes of Sao Paulo and Río de Janeiro and pieced them together with disjointed, modern architecture, creating a very odd and perplexing environment that combines clean futuristic facades with decaying shanties. The whole series of panoramic shots is titled Cartografías para a remoçao. For more about his work, visit http://www.dionisiogonzalez.es/.
To see more about the various exhibits and collections at Williams College Museum of Art, visit http://wcma.williams.edu/.