A Museum Focused Trip to the Berkshires
If you love art, music, and dance, then one of the best ways to travel is on a museum focused trip. That’s why U.S. and Canadian art museums regularly visit the Berkshires with their members. Unlike anywhere else in the country, creating a Berkshire itinerary allows museum travel planners to combine some of the Northeast’s most idyllic scenery with a cultural landscape that normally can only be found within the greatest urban centers. It’s simply not possible to see all that we have to offer in one weekend! But here is one way to experience some of our region’s most beloved art, music, and dance attractions:
Cutting-edge contemporary art and the most magnificent works of the French Impressionists live within a few short miles of each other in the Berkshire’s beautiful North County. Begin your Berkshire adventure in the shadow of Massachusetts’ highest peak, Mount Greylock, by visiting two internationally-renowned art museums in North Adams and Williamstown. Then travel to the central Berkshires for a traditional supper at the peaceful and historic Hancock Shaker Village.
Visit MASS MoCA
87 Marshall Street,
North Adams, MA 01247
The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASSMoCA) is on a 13 acre formal industrial site which now houses the largest collection of contemporary art in the country. Since opening in 1999, MASS MoCA has become one of the world’s premier centers for making and showing the best art of our time. With annual attendance of 120,000, it ranks among the most visited institutions in the United States dedicated to new art. More than 80 major new works of art and more than 50 performances have been created through fabrication and rehearsal residencies in North Adams, making MASS MoCA perhaps the most fertile site in the country for new art. The museum thrives on making and presenting work that is fresh, surprising, and challenging.
Visit The Clark
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
225 South Street, Williamstown, MA 01267
In 1950 Sterling and Francine Clark chartered the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute as a home for their extensive art collection. Opened to public in 1955, the Institute has built upon this extraordinary group of works to become one of the most beloved and respected art museums in the world, known for its intimate galleries and stunning natural environment. The collections focus almost exclusively on European and American painting, sculpture, works on paper, and decorative art from the Renaissance to the early twentieth century. The Institute’s greatest strengths lie in nineteenth-century European and American painting, especially the French Impressionists; English silver; master drawings and prints; and, in recent years, the Institute’s growing collection of early photography.
Experience a “Shaker Dinner and Song Tour” at the Hancock Shaker Village
Hancock Shaker Village
Route 20 & 41, Pittsfield, MA 01202
The Hancock Shaker Village brings the Shaker story to life and preserves it for future generations. The Shaker Dinner and Song Tour affords visitors the ultimate Village experience. A guide in traditional Shaker dress accompanies your group in a two-hour walking tour that highlights and emphasizes themes of community, farming, and innovation and technology. The tour culminates with cider and cheese under the Visitors Center Timber Frame, where your group is treated to an unparalleled view of the Round Stone Barn. A sumptuous four-course Shaker-inspired dinner, served up in the modern comfort of Community Hall, begins with the singing of a Shaker grace and concludes with a program of music that helps to illuminate Shaker beliefs. The bountiful buffet-style dinner offers two entrees.
Spend an entire day exploring Stockbridge, one of New England’s most beautiful mountain villages. Visit museums celebrating two of America’s most beloved artists, then take a short drive to Becket for a magnificent evening of modern dance at Jacob’s Pillow, America’s longest-running dance festival.
4 Williamsville Road, Stockbridge, MA 01262
Chesterwood, a National Trust Historic Site, is the country home, studio and gardens of America’s foremost sculptor of public monuments, Daniel Chester French (1850-1931), creator of the Minute Man and Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial. Situated on 122 acres in the idyllic hamlet of Glendale near Stockbridge, Massachusetts, the property and its buildings were donated to the National Trust for Historic Preservation by French’s only child, Margaret French Cresson (1889-1973). Inspired by the natural beauty of the Berkshire Hills, French purchased the former Marshall Warner farm in 1896. Each year, during the month of May, he left his permanent home and studio in New York for six months and moved with his family to Chesterwood, where he worked on over 200 public and private commissions. Many of French’s plaster sketches, including models of his Abraham Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial, are on view today in his Studio as well as in the permanent exhibit, Daniel Chester French: Sculpting an American Vision, in Barn Gallery. In 2010, visitors to Chesterwood are invited to explore An Artist’s Landscape, a self-guided tour of the beautiful formal gardens and woodland paths created by French himself.
Visit the Norman Rockwell Museum
Norman Rockwell Museum
9 Glendale Road, Route 183,
Stockbridge, MA 01262
The Norman Rockwell Museum houses the world’s largest and most significant collection of Rockwell’s work, including 574 original paintings and drawings. Rockwell’s Stockbridge studio, moved to the Museum site, is open to the public from May through October, and features original art materials, his library, furnishings, and personal items. The Museum also houses the Norman Rockwell Archives, a collection of more than 100,000 items, including working photographs, letters, personal calendars, fan mail, and business documents. One of the great charms of the Museum is its location. Rockwell lived in Stockbridge for the last 25 years of his life, and many of Rockwell’s world-renowned images were drawn from the surrounding community and its residents. “The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts, must be one of the most popular museums in the world,” wrote author Paul Johnson, “crammed from dawn till dusk with delighted visitors crowding round the originals of much-loved paintings. And one of the further pleasures of this enchanting place is that in the nearby little towns you can recognize among the locals the children and grandchildren of those whom Rockwell painted with dedicated veracity.”
Attend a performance at Jacob’s Pillow
Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival
358 George Carter Road, Becket, MA 01223
Jacob’s Pillow Dance is lauded worldwide as a “hub and mecca of dancing” (TIME Magazine), “one of America’s most precious cultural assets” (Mikhail Baryshnikov), and “the dance center of the nation” (The New York Times). “The Pillow” is a treasured 163-acre National Historic Landmark, a recipient of the prestigious National Medal of Arts, and home to America’s longest-running international dance festival. Each year thousands of people from across the U.S. and around the globe visit the Berkshires of Western Massachusetts to experience the Festival with more than 50 dance companies and 200 free performances, talks, and events; train at The School at Jacob’s Pillow, one of the most prestigious professional dance training centers in the U.S.; explore the Pillow’s rare and extensive dance Archives; and take part in numerous Community Programs designed to educate and engage dance audiences of all ages.
It’s summer in the Berkshires, and for music-lovers around the world that means something magical is happening: Tanglewood is in season! First spend a fascinating morning in Lenox by visiting a gem for contemporary art enthusiasts – the Frelinghuysen Morris House and Studio. Then drive just down the street to experience the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s magnificent summer home for a matinee performance. It’s the grand finale to your Berkshire adventure.
Visit the Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio
Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio
92 Hawthorne St.
Lenox, MA 01240
George L. K. Morris and Suzy Frelinghuysen, prolific abstract artists since the late 1930s, were a remarkable couple at the leading edge of the national and international art scene. Collectors and intellectuals, they created a Berkshire home that reflected their aesthetic worlds. Now you can tour their world, preserved just as it was when they created it. In 1929, George L.K. Morris traveled to Paris and studied with Fernand Leger and Amedee Ozenfant in Ozenfants’s Le Corbusier designed studio. On his return to America, Morris wanted to duplicate the white-stucco walled, notched roof, open-spaced studio. In 1930, with the help of Boston architect and Yale classmate George Sanderson, he designed and built his studio on a portion of his parents’ Lenox, Massachusetts estate, “Brookhurst.” It was the first Modern structure to be built in New England. The Wadsworth Athenaeum’s Avery Memorial Building and the Gropius House in Lexington, Massachusetts were built several years later. In 1941, now married to artist and singer Suzy Frelinghuysen, Morris chose a local architect, John Butler Swann to design a house which would be integrated into the existing studio. A two story stucco and glass block house with a colorful mural by Morris connecting the house and garage was built. Visitors can walk through the House with all of its original furnishings and view not only the works of Morris and Frelinghuysen on the walls, but walk right up to the works of some of their more famous colleagues and contemporaries including Picasso, Braque, Leger and Gris. As Director Kinney Frelinghuysen notes, “The integration of living quarters with the immediacy of a concentration of works of art is a pleasurable and unexpected way to propel visitors into early 20th century art.”
Attend a matinee Boston Symphony Orchestra concert at Tanglewood
297 West Street
Lenox, MA 01240
For 75 years, Tanglewood has created a sublime experience of musical performance amidst the pastoral beauty of the Berkshire Hills. Summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra and the Boston Pops, Tanglewood is attended by over 350,000 visitors each year who come from around the world to hear the most exciting artists of classical, jazz, and popular music. Such musical legends of the past such as Leonard Bernstein and Aaron Copland found an inspirational home at Tanglewood, as have current artists John Williams, Phyllis Curtin, Seiji Ozawa, and James Taylor. Our audiences come away both enriched and renewed by the majesty of this internationally-renowned summer festival in the Berkshires. Boston Symphony Orchestra concerts occur every Friday and Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons during the summer season. Dining options and pre-concert function space are available, and the Group Sales Office offers ample free bus parking, group discounts, flexible payment plans, and the personalized service needed to ensure that your group’s visit is a special one.
Jason Lyon is the Associate Director of Group Sales at the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Boston Pops, and Tanglewood. Jason sits on the Board of Directors for the Berkshire Visitors Bureau, regularly represents the Boston Symphony Orchestra/Boston Pops/Tanglewood at national and international tourism events (including the National Tour Association and Student/Youth Travel Association Conventions), and he has written articles about Berkshire tourism for group tour industry publications.