Whether you’re into art, history, or kid-friendly spaces, there’s a museum here in the Berkshires for you. Here’s our highlight of the must-see exhibitions and events happening this month around the region.
Situated in Pittsfield’s downtown cultural district, the Berkshire Museum was established by local business owner Zenas Crane back in 1903 as a repository for fine art, ancient artifacts, and natural history. The permanent collection flows through art galleries, an aquarium, specimens of Berkshire birds and animals, and interesting (and sometimes curious) objects collected from around the world. Through January 5, 2020, the museum’s annual Festival of Trees exhibition celebrates the season with more than 100 twinkling holiday displays decorated by area businesses and students. Upcoming events also include festive live music, and shows with magician David Hall.
Housing the world’s largest collection of Norman Rockwell’s paintings and drawings, the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge is a must-see stop for admirers of the illustrator’s iconic style. Not only do you see famous works such as Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas and hundreds of Rockwell’s Saturday Evening Post covers, you also get a glimpse of his life while he lived and painted here. In addition to the permanent collection, a special exhibition Finding Home: Four Artists’ Journeys (on view through May 2020) spotlights the varied works of illustrators Frances Jetter, David Macaulay, James McMullan, and Yuyi Morales.
If you’re a fan of contemporary art, a visit to the Berkshires is not complete without a stop at MASS MoCA in North Adams, the largest museum of its kind in the world. The expansive former mill buildings on its campus house long-term exhibitions as well as visiting shows and sound installations by well-known and emerging artists. The Kidspace gallery doubles as a hands-on educational studio where children can learn from and create art with established artists. A vibrant calendar of events brings live music, performance art, and theater to the museum throughout the winter season. You’ll also find four on-site eateries, offering a range of fare from salads and sandwiches to a brewpub and farm-to-table dining.
With a permanent collection rich in American and European paintings, sculpture, photography, and silver, The Clark is a world-class museum and research center. As you move from gallery to gallery, significant works by notable artists dating from the Renaissance to the early twentieth century take center stage. Arabesque, the museum’s newest featured exhibition (December 14, 2019—March 22, 2020), explores this decorative style through three distinct periods in European art with an array of printed works, decorative furnishings, and textiles. Be sure to also check out the museum’s calendar for special events, films, and performances.
Love children’s books and have time for short drive? The Eric Carle Museum in Amherst, about an hour from the Berkshires, is a celebration of picture books and the authors and illustrators who create them. Eric Carle’s original illustrations from such beloved childhood favorites as The Very Hungry Caterpillar are among the 11,000 holdings in a collection including works by William Steig, L. Frank Baum, Maurice Sendak, Maira Kalman, Chris Van Allsburg, and many others. Beyond the galleries, you’ll find a theater, library, and bookshop. Check the museum’s calendar for story times, artists’ talks, puppet shows, and creative workshops happening throughout the coming year.
Winter in the Berkshires is calling—from outdoor fun to museum days. Whether you’re a visitor or a local looking for a way to spend a day with friends and family, there’s always something here to explore and create unforgettable experiences.
Nancy Macy is a freelance writer and editor based in the Berkshires.