Harley Spiller collection features unlikely combination of objects


NORTH ADAMS, MASS. — This year’s Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) “Advanced Museum Studies” course exhibition, “Critical Mass,” will feature everyday objects from the collection of Harley Spiller, a renowned collector with thousands of diverse, everyday objects – from spoons to Metrocards and gum to money.

An opening reception for “Critical Mass” will take place on Thursday, April 27, from 5 to 7 p.m. at the MCLA Design Lab, 49 Main St. It is free and open to the public.

With the goal to rethink the significance of the mundane, students in MCLA’s “Advanced Museum Studies” class designed opportunities to build awareness of the objects that often are taken for granted. Spiller’s prized collection previously included more than 40,000 Chinese food menus that earned him a Guinness World Record.

Critical Mass explores the value of seemingly insignificant objects when amassed in large quantities and placed in specific contexts. This theme emerged from a curatorial consideration of what lends importance to any given object. Interactive components of the exhibition will allow viewers to document personal relationships to objects, and invite them to contribute and thereby elevate their own belongings.

Based in New York City, Spiller is known as the “Inspector Collector.” He has taught internationally, from pre-school to graduate school, working in New York City museums and cultural organizations for more than two decades. He also serves as administrator and chairman of the Board of Directors of Franklin Furnace Archive, Inc.

Critical Mass will remain on view through May 27. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday through Saturday, and on Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

In addition to being installed and curated by the Advanced Museum Studies students, this exhibition has involved MCLA’s “Intermediate Design” course in production of advertising materials. For more information, call 413-662-5324 or visit .

MCLA Gallery 51 is at 51 Main St. in North Adams. Gallery hours are Monday-Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.

Design Lab is a program of MCLA’s Berkshire Cultural Resource Center. The Gallery is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. seven days a week. MCLA Gallery 51 is at 51 Main St. in North Adams. DownStreet Art, a cultural and economic development program, is organized by the team from MCLA Gallery 51 and the Berkshire Cultural Resource Center (BCRC).

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) is the Commonwealth's public liberal arts college and a campus of the Massachusetts state university system. MCLA promotes excellence in learning and teaching, innovative scholarship, intellectual creativity, public service, applied knowledge, and active and responsible citizenship. MCLA graduates are prepared to be practical problem solvers and engaged, resilient global citizens.

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