Rapper Travis Scott made news recently, when he encouraged crowds gathered in the area surrounding his Lollapalooza concert to climb over the security barricades. As disastrous as this might have been, I cannot help but admire the idea that inspired him to act: that in life there should be no barriers between the wealthy and those less fortunate. In the museum world today, one has the option to pay, on average, $20 to get into museums such as the Art Institute of Chicago or The Metropolitan Museum of Art, or to be pushed and prodded on the weekly freeentrance nights. This is not so at the Davis Museum of Art. Instead of putting up financial barriers, this museum, on Wellesley College’s own campus, is free to the public every day of the week.
Before arriving at Wellesley, my only knowledge regarding this museum was about the statue the curators placed out on the lawn a few years prior – the one that comes up several times over if you Google Image search “Wellesley College.” Thus, Wednesday night’s fall opening reception was a charming surprise. Given largely in honour of the recently retired professor, Bunny Harvey, whose work is now proudly displayed in this Fall’s feature exhibit (Bunny Harvey Four Decades, undoubtedly a reference to the artist’s forty years living and working at the college), this reception served as a promotion of the things planned for the year to come. One of those things, as announced by the curators, is the new catalog the museum will be presenting with Smith College of Art under Yale University Press. Another was the news that the Davis recently won the prestigious Museums for America Grant, which will fund a new Greek and Roman antiquity galley set to open Fall 2016. According to the Friends of Art manager, Jennifer Lewis, the museum is also excited to unveil its new Davis popup bookshop, which will feature promotional Davis Museum themed items.
When I arrived, I was presented with a delicious display of Mediterranean foods (hummus, pita bread, olives, etc.) and a well-stocked bar which took up much of the tiny, dim-lit lobby. As expected, the food was extremely delicious and did not last for long. After only a few moments the crowd descended upon it, and by the end of the evening, nearly all refreshments were gone. It seemed a challenge to take a single step. Funnily enough, it was not nearly as crowded in the galleries themselves. I found myself able to wander in and out of each gallery with ease. Certainly, this evening’s emphasis was on socializing, not so much on the art itself and the viewing of it. The smartly-dressed crowd was largely made up of non-students; many were followers of Ms. Harvey. Others were donors to the museum. There were also plenty of locals and faculty present, with a handful of students standing in the corners of the lobby and glancing at the artworks.
I will say that I was most struck by the caliber of the art itself, for it is not many a student museum that has in its permanent collection works by Jackson Pollock, Claude Monet and John Singer Sargent. Many of the special exhibits for this fall also proved satisfactory. Sight Unseen: The Davis Reveals Its Hidden Tapestries offers a lesson in history as well as art and Farideh Lashai: Only a Shadow is wonderfully thought-provoking. As a self-proclaimed art snob, I was stunned when I left inspired and riveted; the idea of there being such fine art in Wellesley, Massachusetts was not something I was expecting. In short, the reception was pleasant, albeit chaotic, but the art was the main triumph. I would consider it a shame if students did not make use of this resource. There are no barriers holding them back, and there is so much to gain from having an understanding and appreciation of art.
Photo by Alice Liang ’16, Managing Editor