Museums are an enormous part of the fabric that make up the Berkshire landscape and though some are open seasonally; several remain open year round, creating a cultural road map throughout the Berkshires, even for those groups who choose to come in the colder months.
Starting in Sheffield, there is The Ashley House, which is a small museum dedicated to the history of a revolutionary slave, Mum Bett (and her heroic court battle for emancipation). This museum is open daily, from sunrise to sunset, and admission is free. While you are in south county travel to Monterey to experience colonial life at the Bidwell House Museum. Further to the north, you’ll find the Norman Rockwell Museum, in Stockbridge. This world renowned museum, of course, features the amazing art of Norman Rockwell, but also showcases other leading artists, with the museum’s ongoing events throughout the year.
Ventfort Hall Mansion and Gilded Age Museum, in Lenox, offers a unique look back at the enchanted days of the Gilded Age. Open daily, a visitor can roam the lower rooms of the mansion, and view their ongoing exhibit of fashionably dressed miniatures, in ‘Les Petit Dames de Mode.’ Also in Lenox, is The Mount, home of esteemed author, Edith Wharton, although most of the museum remains closed until May, the glorious grounds are open to the public year round.
Along the way there is Animagic Museum of Special Effects in Lee. This venue is a great spot to spend the afternoon, especially if younger ones are in your group. Don’t miss Hancock Shaker Village or Arrowhead, the home of Herman Melville both located in Pittsfield. The Berkshire Museum, also in Pittsfield, is a great addition to any Berkshire itinerary and they are open year round..
In Dalton, there is the Crane Museum of Papermaking, where all of the currency for the United States is made. Then be sure to stop by the Susan B. Anthony Birthplace Museum located in North Adams. Further to the north, in Williamstown, you will find Williams College Museum of Art which is always free and don’t miss the newly expanded and re-opened Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute.
A bit to the East, you will find the great, industrial museum, MASS MoCA. As the country’s largest museum for Contemporary Arts, it always amazes groups with its vastly sized art pieces. If you continue your journey to the north, you will encounter North Adams Museum of History and Science and Bennington Museum, which is just over the Vermont border.
Visiting any or all of these museums is a treat at any time of the year, but if your group chooses to travel to the Berkshires in the winter and spring months your group will have to contend with much smaller crowds. No matter when you visit or how many of the museums you get to see, your group will surely be enriched by what they find, ensuring more wonderful memories of their visit to the Berkshires!
Click for a complete list of all Berkshire Museums, Historic Sites and Gardens.