Come on back: The Mead Art Museum, closed to the public since March 2020, reopens Jan. 31 for all visitors

By STEVE PFARRER

Staff Writer

Published: 02-01-2023 9:06 PM

The Mead Art Museum at Amherst College, which has been closed to the public for nearly three years, has reopened with two new exhibits in place.

The museum shut its doors for all in March 2020 when COVID-19 arrived, and though it eventually reopened for student and faculty use, lingering problems with the pandemic and some needed construction have kept the public out until now, well after museums at other local colleges reopened for general visitation.

The Mead began welcoming visitors back on Tuesday.

The museum’s new director, Siddhartha V. Shah, says the extended hiatus has at least given staff time to reflect on the Mead’s “purpose and visions for the future,” something other museums also did during the worst of the pandemic.

“As we reopen our galleries, we are excited to connect once again with our local friends and neighbors, and to grow relationships with those who may not know us yet,” Shah said in a statement.

“We hope that members of our community will share their hopes for the Mead’s future, as well as their well-wishes as we begin a new chapter in the museum’s history,” he added.

Shah came to the Mead last November from the Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) in Salem, where he had served as curator and director of education and civic engagement.

On view at the museum at its reopening will be two new exhibits, “Architectural Ghosts” and “Untitled (Blue Placebo).” The first consists of architectural objects and artworks drawn from the Mead’s collections and “will examine ruins both as a material state and theoretical concept,” according to program notes.

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“Untitled (Blue Placebo),” by the late Cuban-American visual artist Felix Gonzalez-Torres — he specialized in minimalist installations of ordinary objects — is made up of candy works that will change locations in the museum during the exhibit’s run (visitors are also permitted to take one sweet from the show).

Opening Feb. 24 will be “God Made My Face,” an exhibit exploring the life of James Baldwin through his relationships, his work and the possibilities his writing inspired; the show also considers the time in the mid 1980s when he taught at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The exhibit will include loaned artworks by renowned artists such as Richard Avedon and Kara Walker.

More information on the Mead Museum is available at amherst.edu/museums/mead.

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