April 2, 2020

See Campus Treasures Online

Art and nature from UMass Amherst you can enjoy from the couch

Feeling bored at home? How about looking at some Andy Warhol prints? Or leafing through a 16th century Italian fencing manual? Or examining a cube of the mineral pyrite?

Thanks to the UMass Amherst Campus Collections website launched last year, you don’t have to leave the house to take a virtual look at these and many other campus wonders—from rare books to art to plant specimens.

Julie Brigham-Grette, professor of geosciences and co-chair of the Campus Collections Committee, says, “We see all of UMass Amherst as a museum, with amazing collections spread out throughout the campus. This website helps us celebrate all the treasures we have here. We want them to see the light of day—both in-person and now virtually.”

A map highlights a dozen campus collections, many of which have virtual components. Some, such as the University Museum of Contemporary Art and Durfee Conservatory, are well known, while others, such as the Anthropological Primate Collection, featuring more than 300 skeletons of primates available for study, have been known mostly to specialists. The University of Massachusetts Entomology Collection is part of the commonwealth’s “State Cabinet” natural history collection brought to campus in 1868.

Ludmilla Pavlova-Gillham, senior campus planner and co-chair of the collections committee, created the campus collections website and points out, “We have museum-level collections here that are the work of love for many curators. It’s our responsibility to preserve these collections for future generations.”

Pavlova-Gillham also notes that the Waugh Arboretum, which is a diverse urban forest within our campus, is a wonderful place for those living in Amherst to walk and observe campus trees. “If you’re looking for respite, you can feel connected to nature here. It’s a perfect example of a living campus collection that can be enjoyed while keeping social distance.”

Available both to academic researchers and to the curious, the campus collections are a vital and fascinating part of our commonwealth’s public history and the university’s teaching and outreach missions.

Campus Planning developed the collections map as part of the campus master plan, and in collaboration with the Campus Collections Committee under the direction of Simon Neame, dean of UMass Amherst Libraries.