When visiting Massachusetts be sure the Berkshires is on your itinerary or else you will miss out on a chance to experience our rich culture of museums & historic sites. From world-class modern art to gilded age “cottages” the Berkshire’s has something for everyone’s taste.
The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Arts (MASS MoCA) is on a 13-acre former 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.
In 1950, Sterling and Francine Clark chartered the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute as a home for their extensive art collection. Opened to the 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. Building upon the founders’ legacy, the Institute has recently unveiled its master plan for the twenty-first century, which fosters the Clark’s commitment to providing space for its expanding research and museum programs while maintaining the unique character of its beautiful rural setting.
Hancock Shaker Village
Hancock Shaker Village is a beautifully restored village, set amongst acres of farm, woodland, and pasture is home to the premier collection of Shaker buildings and artifacts. Graceful Shaker furniture, craft, and household items are exhibited in 20 historic buildings, each an architectural gem. The Round Stone Barn, most famous of all Shaker buildings, is a testament to Shaker efficiency, innovation, and design. See the Village come to life through tours, exhibitions, demonstrations, and participatory activities. Talk with artisans working in authentic Shaker shops. Learn about the heritage breed animals that roam the pastures and the heirloom crops in the gardens while soaking up the beauty of Shaker architecture. Sing along to “Simple Gifts.” Your children can even take a lesson with a “Shaker” schoolteacher.Founded in 1969 with the help of Norman and Molly Rockwell, Norman Rockwell Museum is dedicated to the enjoyment and study of Rockwell’s
Norman Rockwell Museum
Founded in 1969 with the help of Norman and Molly Rockwell, Norman Rockwell Museum is dedicated to the enjoyment and study of Rockwell’s work and his contributions to society, popular culture, and social commentary. The Museum, which is accredited by the American Association of Museums, is the most popular year-round cultural attraction in the Berkshires. The Museum houses the world’s largest and most significant collection of Rockwell’s work, including 574 original paintings and drawings. Rockwell lived in Stockbridge for the last 25 years of his life. 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.
Edith Wharton designed and built The Mount in 1902, based on the principles outlined in her influential book, The Decoration of Houses (1897), coauthored Edith Wharton designed and built The Mount in 1902, based on the principles outlined in her influential book, The Decoration of Houses (1897), coauthored with architect Ogden Codman, Jr. This classical revival house represents the only full expression we have of Wharton’s architectural interests. Edith Wharton was an authority on European landscape design as well as a passionate gardener. She envisioned her gardens as an elegant series of outdoor rooms and created unique architectural compositions planned in concert with the house and the surrounding natural landscape. Three acres of formal gardens surround the house.www.edithwharton.org
Ventfort Hall is an imposing Elizabethan-style mansion built in 1893 for Sarah Morgan, the sister of J. P. Morgan. Designed by the architects Rotch & Tilden, it is located in Lenox, Massachusetts. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and declared an official project of “Save America’s Treasures,” a Millennium program of Hillary Rodham Clinton and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Ventfort Hall is the home of The Museum of the Gilded Age. Ventfort Hall was one of the approximately seventy-five so-called “Cottages” built in Lenox in the last century when the village became a popular Gilded Age resort.
Frelinghuysen and Morris House
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. Frelinghuysen and Morris are today being widely rediscovered and evaluated as significant figures in the history of American art. Now you can tour their world, preserved just as it was when they created it. 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 also 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.”
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. 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. Chesterwood is a Historic Site owned and operated by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and recognized as a National and Massachusetts Historic Landmark.