Millennium Project in Pioneer Valley Integrates Art with Citizen Scientists

Exhibition to Document Next Millennium of Climate Change in History’s Slowest Photograph

Formed 200 million years ago in the Late Triassic and boasting hundreds of distinct microclimates, the Holyoke Range is a site selected to document the transformation of the environment over the next 1,000 years.
This spring, the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College will install a camera, designed by experimental philosopher and Amherst College graduate Jonathon Keats, that will take a millennium-long photograph of the evolving landscape. The museum will unveil the photograph in the summer of 3015. Prior to the camera’s installation at the Mead, it will be it will be on display in the exhibition Jonathon Keats: Photographing Deep Time, on view April 15 through May 31, 2015.

What will the landscape of the Pioneer Valley look like a millennium from now? The Mead Art Museum and artist Jonathon Keats are determined to find out. As part of an exhibition of Keats’ work, the museum will install a special camera that will take a 1,000-year-long photograph tracking the changes in the local landscape over the next millennium.

Created using the basic design for a pinhole camera, the Millennium Camera will use oil paint and the light that enters the camera through a tiny hole in order to create an exposure that will reflect changes in Amherst’s landscape over time. Mounted at the top of the Stearns Steeple, the camera will get something a bit like a bird’s eye view of its surroundings. In 3015, the image created by the camera will be unveiled and viewed by a community living in a very different world than today’s.

The exhibit that marks the camera’s start is titled Photographing Deep Time, and will showcase Keats’ other work in deep time photography, including a 100-year photographic survey of the changing cityscape of Berlin. Rather than being focused on the end result of any image, Keats’ deep photography process is focused on connecting photograph viewers with the changes that take place over time that, together, create the final product.

Older students and adults wishing to hear more about the monumental project and Keats’ artistic process can attend an artist conversation at the Mead Art Museum from 2-3pm on Wednesday, April 15, 2015. Photographing Deep Time will be on display at the museum through May 31, 2015, providing families with the opportunity to explore the intersection of art, science, and the future’s history. This Wednesday afternoon event is free and open to the public and is part of the Arts at Amherst Spring Festival.

The Mead will also produce 100 pinhole cameras, each with a 100-year exposure time, for the public to hide somewhere in the Pioneer Valley, invisibly monitoring changes in the surrounding landscape between now and 2115. The cameras will be available at the Mead for $5 each and will come with a registration card for visitors to document their camera’s location. Participating families can join is a art-based citizen scientists! Read the rest of this entry »

Mead Art Museum Supports Community-Based Education

Family Fun Days at the Mead Art Museum in Amherst

“Family Fun Days have been so popular in the past, we decided to make them even more frequent,” noted Wendy Somes, Coordinator of Community Programs. The increase is part of the Mead’s ongoing mission to connect families, teachers, and community organizations with their local art museum, she said. “We believe that museums are educational AND fun places for families to learn together.”

When we think of places in our community we can visit to support our children’s interests and education, museums are often the first institutions we think of… and rightly so! Their exhibit-filled galleries offer lots of educational potential, with both permanent and changing exhibits families can use to learn about a variety of topics throughout the year. However, without interpretation or support, the vast amount of information present in museum exhibits can be difficult to navigate and make accessible for children with little background knowledge.

Keeping this in mind, the Mead Art Museum in Amherst, MA, is now offering monthly Family Fun Days, making museum-based learning not only more accessible for families with younger children, but a whole lot of fun too! Family Fun Days aren’t new to the Museum,  but their popularity has encouraged the Museum to host them as a monthly event! Each month brings a new theme that matches an exhibit hanging in the museum’s galleries, and families will get a chance to learn about the theme through hands-on activities, guided gallery tours, read-alouds of children’s books, and group discussions. Not only will the educational potential of the museum be unlocked by museum guides and interpreters, but children will be able to learn in a collaborative, multi-age environment where they share their thoughts and observations with others and gain insight from information shared by other visitors.

February’s Family Fun Day will be held on Saturday, February 15th from 11am-2pm – and admission is free! This month’s theme is feasts and medieval life, and will include a kid-friendly tour of the museum’s Rotherwas Room. Read the rest of this entry »

Mead Art Museum: Supporting Informal Learning For Families

Dig into Art at the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College This Summer

Informal learning environments like libraries and museums are important in preparing children for success in school and life.  Why? Young brains are hardwired to learn informally!

Art museums can seem daunting for families with children—untouchable artworks, quiet galleries, and security guards at every turn.  But don’t rule them out, because art museums are the perfect destination for children this summer.

The Mead Art Museum now provides free activity totes for families to borrow while at the museum.  A new theme will roll out every six months. The Museum’s debut theme, available now, is Dig into Art. Kids can dress up like Indiana Jones, with explorer vest and pith helmet, as they hunt for artifacts in the museum.  Families can curl up on one of the Mead’s cozy armchairs and read a picture book of Greek mythology. Budding archaeologists will each receive a take-home gallery notebook to record their discoveries, inspired by real-life scientific field journals.

Dig into Art complements the Massachusetts Libraries summer reading program Dig into Reading. Libraries and museums are natural partners for helping kids and families prevent “summer slide”—the loss of school skills over the break…

The Institute for Library and Museum Services—a federal organization—recently published a report on how important libraries and museums are in preparing children for success in school and life.  Why?  Young brains are hardwired to learn informally.  The more opportunities young children have to learn in an informal, non-school setting, the more successful they will be in school…

Read the rest of this entry »

Mead Art Museum at Amherst College Supplements Asian Studies with Current Exhibit

Visit the Mead Art Museum and Rethink Your Assumptions About Japan.

Older children, teens, and adults have the opportunity to cross the globe, right here in Western Massachusetts. Reinventing Tokyo: Japan’s Largest City in the Artistic Imagination, on view through December 30 at the Mead Art Museum in Amherst, is the first exhibition in the US to approach Tokyo through the lens of the city’s history of continual change and reinvention.  With over 100 prints, photographs, paintings, and textiles, Reinventing Tokyo gives a visual timeline of the Japanese capital’s modernization from Edo to the cutting edge modern Tokyo of today.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Timed to open 100 years after Japan’s gift of cherry blossoms to Washington DC, this exhibition follows major events in recent Japanese history, including the 19th-century “opening” of Japan to Western trade, natural disasters such as fires and earthquakes, and the rapid urbanization after the destruction of World War Two.

One major theme is the contrast between eastern and western cultural influences, evident in the woodblock prints depicting street scenes of people walking side by side, some in kimonos, some in 19th-century Western suits and bonnets.  A traditionally dressed woman walks across a state of the art steel suspension bridge; a baseball player adorns a 1930s kimono; a high fashion gown by famed designer Miyake Issey hints at traditional Japanese clothing yet is unquestioningly modern and futuristic.

As a former classroom geography teacher I recommend Reinventing Tokyo as a resource for students of Japanese culture and globalization.  However, it is the theme of urbanization that is most visually striking.  Tokyo, once the small fishing village of Edo, is now the political, cultural, and economic center of Japan.  The largest urban center in the world with 35 million people, Tokyo illustrates what happens when natural disaster, war, and cultural change alter an urban landscape and the people living within it.

Many large cities have a history as a crossroads, a place where cultures meet for commerce and accidentally share more than goods and services; ideas and values end up mingling as well.  Tokyo has been a crossroads of tradition and modernity for over 150 years.  After centuries of self isolation, Japan allowed itself to “open” to trade with Western nations, especially the United States, in the mid-19th century.   A mixing of culture and technology followed and continues to this day.  From skyscrapers and McDonalds to anime and sushi, the exchange of ideas between Japan and the US crisscrosses the globe.

When Tokyo rebuilt itself after earthquakes, fires, and war, it was the urban architecture popular in the United States and Europe that helped to house quickly the large population.  Yet the new neighborhoods and shopping districts maintained a distinctly Japanese feel and style.  Modern-day Tokyo has the vibrancy of New York yet a sense of place unique to a culture that has thrived in one location for centuries.  It is this ongoing relationship between the past and the future, the result of an amazing resiliency to disaster, that makes Tokyo such a dynamic and important city.

A note to families and teachers: this exhibition includes visual reference to natural disasters, war, and adult sexuality.  Admission to the Mead is always free and parents and teachers are welcome to preview the exhibition.

Reinventing Tokyo: Japan’s Largest City in the Artistic Imagination is open through December 30, 2012. The Mead is located on the Amherst College campus, at the intersection of Routes 9 and 116. Admission to the Mead is always free.

– Submitted by Wendy Somes

Five College Center for East Asian Studies

If you’re interested in additional resources, the Five College Center for East Asian Studies (FCCEAS) at Smith College in Northampton has a free newsletter, “East Asia for Teachers,” which compiles cultural activities and educational opportunities in New England and New York of interest to educators who teach about East Asia or families wanting to further supplement their children’s education in East Asia studies. Included in the newsletter are a calendar of museum exhibits and cultural events,  and resources on East Asia, distributed three times a year.  In their most recent newsletter they shared the follow online supplemental curriculums which might be of interest to teachers and homeschoolers:

  • SPICE (Stanford Program on International and Cross Cultural Education) has several new units: An Interpretive History of Japan; China in Transition: Economic Development, Migra- tion, and Education; and Chinese American Voices: Teaching with Primary Sources. Visit
  • Education about Asia (EAA) has available articles to view and download from back issues published between 1996 and 2008. Registration is free. Visit

Visit FCCEAS for more links and resources to further your education on East Asian studies.  Find it all at

A few fun online resources for younger children to explore Japanese language and culture include:


Wendy Somes is Coordinator of Community Programs at the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College.  She lives in Goshen with her husband, young son, and two spoiled felines.

Dance Into Art at the Mead Art Museum in Amherst

Mead Art Museum at Amherst College Presents
Dance Into Art
Pioneer Valley Community Celebration!

On Saturday, April 21, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College will host a family-friendly event exploring the art of dance and costume in Amherst’s art collection. The fun-filled afternoon of activities for children and adults of all ages is free and open to the public.

Dance into art at the Mead Art Museum in Amherst!  The museum, which houses Amherst College’s art collection, is currently hosting a special exhibition featuring work from artists Robert Henri and Nick Cave, whose work explores the human form through examination of dance and movement as a form of cultural expression.

The museum will host a family-friendly event on April 21st, from 11am-3pm, where families can see music and dance demonstrations, tour the museum and learn about current exhibits, and take part in hands-on art activities.

Kids can make their own hand puppets and masks inspired by the works shown from Henri and Cave, and can use the performances taking place throughout the day as inspiration as well.

The event offers an opportunity for families to view great art, as well as a chance for kids to learn about ways of using sources of inspiration.  For more information, call the museum at 413-542-2000, or visit

Discover the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College this Saturday!

Mead Art Museum at Amherst College presents
The Nature of Art Pioneer Valley Community Celebration

Nature of Art Flyer

This Saturday, April 30th families will have a free opportunity to visit the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College. Lots of interactive projects for kids and nature-themed lead tours of the museum's galleries.

On Saturday, April 30, 2011 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Mead Art Museum at Amherst College will host a family-friendly event exploring the natural world through art, and celebrating images of nature in Amherst’s art collection. The fun-filled afternoon of activities for children and adults of all ages is free and open to the public.

The Mead’s volunteer Docents, an energetic group of college students from Amherst and the Five Colleges, will lead the Nature-themed celebrations, guiding tours of the museum’s galleries and offering scavenger hunts that promise to challenge visitors’ powers of observation. The Docents will also lead interactive art-making projects, including animal mask making and face painting, and harnessing wind power with a custom kite building workshop.

“The natural world has inspired artists throughout history,” noted museum director and chief curator Elizabeth Barker. “The Nature of Art promises a fresh look at the natural wonders inside the Mead—and inside our visitors’ imaginations.”

A complete schedule of the museum’s events is posted on the Mead’s Web site. The Mead Art Museum houses the art collection of Amherst College, totaling more than 16,000 works. An accredited member of the American Association of Museums, the Mead participates in Museums10, a regional cultural collaboration. During the academic term, the museum is open Tuesday through Thursday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to midnight and Friday and Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, please visit, or call 413/542-2335.

%d bloggers like this: