Building on a Legacy
It is with much enthusiasm and honor that I write this letter as the new Florence Finch Abbott Director of the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. As my tenure began in the fall, I was fortunate to join the 140th anniversary celebration on November 11, 2016. It was a lively, memorable evening, well attended by students, neighbors, and members of MHC faculty and staff, including Acting President Sonya Stephens and Dean of Faculty Jon Western.
Our showcase was the 140 Unlimited exhibition, a stellar reinstallation of the galleries that features over 140 recent acquisitions and continues this spring. As many of you know, my predecessor John Stomberg tirelessly led the 140 Gifts campaign, an impressive initiative that resulted in over 300 acquisitions made possible through the considerable generosity of our many supporters.
The Museum’s distinguished history and expanded collection were celebrated that evening, while our students brought great originality and vitality to the galleries. Our Student Guides led engaging tours while other students shared their own ekphrastic poems inspired by individual works on display. The evening concluded with a splendid roaming concert through the galleries; of special note was the choral finale featuring the work of alumna Linda Conway Correll George (’60).
Indeed, it was a very auspicious start to my tenure here. Although it has been only a few months since I arrived at the College, I must say I already feel at home. The Museum staff and the broader Mount Holyoke College community have been very welcoming, making my transition seamless. While I have curated contemporary art for many years, I most enjoy working with an encyclopedic collection, such as MHCAM’s, and creating connections across centuries and cultures. The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum also resonates with my interests, and thus I find our corresponding commitment to both art and material culture meaningful and relevant. Through such distinctive resources and our esteemed Teaching with Art program, MHCAM actively enriches the lives of our students and surrounding community. It is exactly the kind of museum where I want to be.
As we embark on our next chapter, I would like to thank former directors Marianne Doezema and John Stomberg, and former curator Wendy Watson for their significant contributions. We would not be where we are today without their legacy. I would also like to share my gratitude to both past and current members of the Art Museum Advisory Board for their longstanding support and counsel, and in particular to Board Chair Susan Noonan (’82).
And finally, I extend a heartfelt thanks to the talented, committed Museum staff for their tremendous work, and to Ellen Alvord, Weatherbie Curator of Education and Academic Programs, who served as the interim director with boundless energy and aplomb.
I look forward to meeting more of our supportive community, and hope you will introduce yourself whenever you visit MHCAM—it would be an honor to personally welcome you!
Tricia Y. Paik, PhD
Florence Finch Abbott Director