The three largest museums in the Berkshires—the Clark Art Institute, MASS MoCA and the Norman Rockwell Museum—plan to reopen to visitors over the July 11–12 weekend, following Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker’s announcement permitting museums and other cultural organizations to resume operations. With new pandemic precautions in place, visitors must check each venue's website for guidelines and purchase timed tickets in advance.
For those outside of Massachusetts (and other Northeast states), reference travel restriction updates prior to making plans. If you can not travel, each museum has virtual content to browse, such as the Norman Rockwell Museum's Norman Rockwell in the Age of the Civil Rights Movement.
Start in the fresh air with an initiative of the Clark Art Institute, MASS MoCA and the Williams College Museum of Art. Northern Berkshire Art Outside is an online walking and biking tour showcasing outdoor art in Williamstown and North Adams. Available on Google Maps at this link, the tour includes some 30 works of art stretching across 10 miles of country roads. In addition to Martin Puryear’s Big Bling on Mass MoCA's campus, the trail includes Walter Fähndrich’s Music for a Quarry and Klaas Hübner and Andrew Schrock’s Corrugarou in North Adams, Louise Bourgeois’ Eyes and Thomas Schütte’s Crystal in Williamstown.
Reopening July 11, MASS MoCA will kick off with Apsáalooke: Children of the Large-Beaked Bird, an exhibition of the artist Wendy Red Star who re-examines cultural artifacts and primary source historic imagery, using them as the foundation for her photographic interventions and colorful installations. Also on view is Brooklyn-based artist Blane De St. Croix’s largest and most ambitious exhibition to date, featuring a series of 24 ft. high, soaring vertical works that reference pit mines and hurricanes. How to Move a Landscape examines climate change and its growing socio-political imperative through vast sculptural installations, drawings, miniature dioramas and a whimsical, precision-scaled model train.
Rose O’Neill: Artist & Suffragette is a special permanent collection installation at the Norman Rockwell Museum, known for its Rockwell collection and exhibits of other American illustrator-artists. Reopening July 12, the museum presents this exhibition at an especially poignant moment as 2020 marks the one-hundredth anniversary since women were formally given the right to vote, a cause to which Rose O’Neill (1874-1944) was strongly devoted. Rose O’Neill worked tirelessly to promote the right of women to vote by taking part in protests and speaking to groups, and by creating protest signs, magazine illustrations, and postcards featuring her famous Kewpies.
As the Clark Art Institute reopens its doors to the public on July 12, it will also open a new exhibition that celebrates a series of recent and promised gifts made by local collectors Herbert and Carol Diamond. Lines from Life: French Drawings from the Diamond Collection traces transformations in nineteenth-century figure drawing, when developing interests in Realism and contemporary life diverged from the idealism championed by public institutions such as the École des Beaux-Arts (School of Fine Arts) in Paris and the esteemed Académie de France (French Academy) in Rome. Featuring thirty-two works on paper from the Diamond collection, along with twelve additional works from the Clark’s permanent collection, the exhibition includes drawings by Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres (French, 1780–1867), Eugène Delacroix (French, 1798–1863), Edgar Degas (French, 1834–1917), Jean-Léon Gérôme (French, 1824–1904), and Odilon Redon (French, 1840–1916), among others. The exhibition is on view in the Eugene V. Thaw Gallery in the Clark’s Manton Research Center through December 13, 2020.
The Clark’s grounds remain open at no charge on a 24-hour basis; the grounds of the Norman Rockwell Museum are available to the public during operating hours, with no charge. Visitors may explore the MASS MoCA campus, including businesses housed within the former factory complex. Check individual websites for further details.
Don't miss the Hancock Shaker Village, opening July 11, another Berkshires destination offering ticketed events including a sunset summer stroll through the grounds. Collections of Shaker craftsmanship and historic architecture like the iconic Round Stone Barn are a draw, plus there is a farm to roam and hikes around pastures and woods.