The Mead Receives $3 Million to Support Directorial Position

The Mead Art Museum announced on Jan. 11 that it received a gift of $3 million. The donation by John Wieland ’58 and his wife Sue seeks to support the position of director and chief curator and help build the museum’s contemporary art collection.

“We are deeply grateful to John and Sue Wieland for this generous gift to Amherst and for their commitment to ensuring that the Mead’s exhibitions, educational programming and collection-building continue to serve and delight everyone in our community and beyond,” President Biddy Martin said in a press release.

David Little, Mead director and chief curator, remarked that the endowment for the director position greatly benefits the museum. “When that happens, it means that there’s more money freed up for other positions and activi
ties,” he said. “It provides budget release for the college.”

Little also highlighted the donation’s contribution to the museum’s contemporary art acquisitions. Over the past year, the museum has focused on increasing its contemporary art collection, acquiring more than 120 works made within the last 10 years.

“We’re trying to show art from [students’] generation so that they’re able to get what artists are doing and its relationship to history,” said Little. “Art and time march on, so it’s really exciting to be able to have funds to support acquisitions of contemporary art.”

The museum is also working to diversify the selection of artists displayed by highlighting non-American artists, according to Little. Within the past year, works originating from Germany, Russia and Africa have been on exhibit.

The Wielands will also present an exhibition titled “HOUSE: Selections from the Collection of John and Sue Wieland,” featuring works from the Wieland’s collection, and contribute to the museum’s increasing variety of artworks, says Little.

“[HOUSE] includes artists from places like China, Latin America and South Africa,” Little said.

The artwork will focus on how the house can contribute to a person’s life both positively and negatively, as well as the complex associations some have with the home.

The Wielands’ collection includes contemporary artists such as Vito Acconci, Doug Aitkin, John Baldessari, Jennifer Bartlett and Robert Bechtle, according to the college’s press release.

Little hopes the exhibition will attract students who normally would not visit the museum. “What I love about the theme of the house is the accessibility of the concept,” he said. “I hope [students] will discover all of the different ways you can enjoy and think about this art.”

The exhibition’s theme will also connect the museum with the college community, he added. “It shows the community, how we at the Mead are connecting with the students and connecting with the curriculum,” he said.

Events currently hosted by the Mead include gallery talks with curators, artist presentations and performances.

“HOUSE: Selections from the Collection of John and Sue Wieland” will open on Feb. 8 and remain on display until July 1.
To commemorate the exhibition’s opening, John Wieland and Little will host a public talk at 5 p.m. in Stirn Auditorium.