The Mount Holyoke College Art Museum (MHCAM), one of the most distinguished teaching museums in the country, was founded in 1876 to support the educational mission of the college. As a teaching museum, the MHCAM is dedicated to providing first-hand experience with works of art of significant aesthetic and cultural value and to developing programs that stimulate inquisitive looking, raise visual intelligence, and encourage understanding of the artistic achievements represented by a diversity of cultures. By doing so, the Museum enhances the curricular and co-curricular life of the College and serves as a cultural resource for academic communities of the Five College consortium (Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges and the University of Massachusetts at Amherst), as well as a broad general public. By participating in the international community of museums, the MHCAM enhances the reputation of MHCAM as a preeminent liberal arts college, raises the public profile of the college, and contributes to scholarship in the visual arts.
The Museum staff maintains a collection of approximately 15,000 objects that range from pre-dynastic Egyptian artifacts to contemporary paintings, sculpture, and works of art on paper. Primary strengths include Asian art, nineteenth- and twentieth-century European and American paintings and sculpture, Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art, Medieval sculpture, early Italian Renaissance paintings, and an extensive collection of prints, drawings, and photographs. The collection is accessible via the Worldwide Web through a searchable database constructed and maintained collaboratively with the art museums of the Five Colleges and Historic Deerfield, the first such joint initiative in the United States.
The staff also oversees the Joseph Allen Skinner Museum housing the eclectic collections of Joseph Allen Skinner.
The MHCAM is committed to organizing special exhibitions that complement and augment its collection and that relate to the College curriculum and to the interests of the greater community beyond the campus.