Invigorating the Arts at Mount Holyoke: The Art Building and Art Museum Project


Overall view/grayscale

Paul and Harriet Levine Weissman '58

Footprint of expanded Mount Holyoke College Art Museum.

Thanks to the generosity of donors to the Campaign for Mount Holyoke College, the MHC community will soon enjoy an invigorated environment in which to create, learn about, and view art. The art building renovation and new construction project, slated to get under way in fall 2000, includes new classrooms, studio space, and advanced imaging, design, and research technology, as well as expanded exhibition space for the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum.


About the Project

On the first floor, new construction will add 2,800 square feet of additional gallery space to the art museum. A fundraising challenge initiated by Harriet Levine Weissman '58 and her husband, Paul M. Weissman, has enabled this new addition to increase significantly--from its original design of 1,800 square feet to 2,800 square feet. The ability to showcase more of the museum's outstanding collection of 13,000 objects is critical to carrying out its primary mission to support the College curriculum and enrich the extracurricular life of students. The museum's storage area will also be renovated and expanded to relieve serious congestion in its current space in addition to making the collection more accessible.

As a result of new construction and the reconfiguration of some of the current galleries, new spaces will be provided for seventeenth-, eighteenth-, and nineteenth-century art in addition to modern and contemporary art, much of which has remained in storage for the last decade because of limited exhibition space. Space will also be dedicated to a study gallery/classroom to be used primarily by students and programmed collaboratively by the museum staff and art department faculty.

On the second and third floors of the building, the art department will gain a total of 22,000 square feet of renovated space. The second floor will be reconfigured to accommodate a visual studies lab, expanded space for the slide collection (150,000 slides) that will incorporate state-of-the-art image preparation, a reference library, and two new mediated classrooms. Art history classes will benefit from improved access to digitized imagery and a variety of online resources. A section of the area that currently houses the art library will be developed for studio majors to work on their senior projects in preparation for the senior art majors' exhibition. The art library will be moved from the second floor to Williston Library so that the entire art library can be consolidated. The film studies program will also relocate to the library.

On the third floor, the sculpture classrooms will be completely reconfigured to complement the existing three studios, providing for greater flexibility as well as space and equipment for work on large-scale projects. A new elevator and central stairway will connect all floors of the art building, making it possible to move effortlessly between the art museum and the art department.


The Weissman Challenge

The Campaign for Mount Holyoke College has had a goal to raise $2 million to assist in the improvement and renovation of the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum and art building. In early January, the trustees increased this goal to $3 million. The additional $1 million will allow the museum to add a significant addition of 2,800 square feet. The possibility of this important improvement to the museum was the result of a challenge gift from the Weissmans. Harriet Levine Weissman '58 has been a longtime patron of the art museum and a member of its advisory board.

As of January 31, 2000, the campaign had received $1.1 million in gifts and pledges to the art facility project. The Weissman challenge is a "one for two" challenge. The campaign must raise an additional $1.2 million for the renovation and addition by June 30, 2000, at which time the Weissmans will give $650,000 to complete the necessary funding of the building addition and an endowment for the ongoing maintenance of the museum.


It's Time to Wake Up: The Sluggard to Be Liberated from StorageWaking sculpture/grey back


Frederic Leighton's The Sluggard (1890) appears to have been asleep in the Mount Holyoke Art Museum's storage area, where it has spent virtually all its time since its purchase by the College in 1985. In fact, this piece has only been shown once at MHC. Due to a lack of exhibition space, the museum's nineteenth-century objects are rarely brought out of storage. That will change with the completion of the art building renovation and new construction project, which will provide space for objects such as this one to be on view for all to see. The Sluggard, one of the finest examples of nineteenth-century avant-garde sculpture, was created by British painter and sculptor Frederic Leighton (1830 - 96). The sculpture takes its inspiration from Rodin's Age of Bronze and also alludes to Michelangelo's Dying Slaves. It will be great to see what we've been missing.






Photo of Weissmans by Jim Gipe