By Kim Ostellino
Spring will be here before we know it. In the Berkshires area museums have already begun creating and announcing exciting programs for the next season. As visitation to our area has increased, so has the volume of offerings at cultural attractions. Gone are the days of static exhibitions in galleries filled with artwork and artifacts. Museums are now offering a more robust variety of programmatic options and interactive experiences, attracting a wider cross-section of new visitors.
In addition to their exhibits and collections, museums now present lectures, classes, performances, and special events. Venues in the Berkshires have the added advantage of their beautiful natural setting. This gives their guests an enhanced experience as they can include a walk in the woods, a picnic or just relaxing within nature, to their visit. This elevates a tour of a museum into an entire day enjoyed at one location.
In North Adams, the largest contemporary museum in the country, MASS MoCA, is exhibiting the wildly popular Nick Cave exhibit. The dazzling and cavernous installation is made up of found objects and millions of beads and will be on display through August. ‘Explode Every Day’, curated by “one of the most audacious contemporary curators in the country”, Denise Markonish, features the idea of wonder as interpreted by twenty-three different international artists. Touring MASS MoCA, you can get lost in the world of Sol LeWitt’s, ‘Wall Drawing Retrospective’, wandering past panel after panel of his vivid designs.
Nearby in Williamstown, the Clark Art Institute continues its’ gallery talks and classes, as well as special events, films, and Story Slams. On display through April 2 you will find, ‘Japanese Impressions: Color Woodblock Prints from the Rodbell Family Collection’, a series of color prints from their permanent collection and private loans. Through May 7, The Clark will offer free admission on the first Sunday of each month. The new Henry Morris and Elizabeth H. Burrows Gallery will open on February 19. It features the museum’s American Decorative Arts collection including paintings, furniture, and American silver.
Many of the museums in the Berkshires remain open year round. At the Berkshire Museum, in Pittsfield, you can peruse their permanent collections, take in a film, or bring your little ones to programs designed for young children. The entire family can enjoy the new, ‘Lab 102’, where you can learn about the relationship between art and science. The lab and the aquarium provide hands-on activities to keep everyone interested and engaged. ‘Tell Me More,’ is a new exhibit on view through April 30 giving visitors a glimpse into the Berkshires’ past.
Also, open year round is the ever popular Norman Rockwell Museum whose exhibit ‘HANNA-BARBERA: The Architects Of Saturday Morning’ is on exhibit through May 29. This is a must see for the whole family. Always on exhibit, you will find pieces by throughout by Norman Rockwell himself and in the warmer months visit his gallery.
The seasonal museums come out of hibernation in late spring offering you the opportunity to experience them as the surrounding landscapes are reborn. There is so much to do and see as the Berkshires rejuvenate and a new season begins.
Kim is a freelance writer, devoted to bringing the best of the Berkshires to locals and visitors alike through her website, Berkshire Girl Online. She is an avid hiker and kayaker, who also loves to explore the cultural and historical sites of the Berkshires.