While in the area, you won't want to miss the Berkshires newest cultural attraction, MASS MoCA, -- the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the United States. This open laboratory for the creation and exploration of contemporary art, allows visitors to experience all stages of art-making and the creative process.
A Dramatic Factory Campus with Far Ranging Programs
Housed in a vast 13-acre, 27-building 19th century factory campus, MASS MoCA features a far-ranging collection of programs including
exhibitions, site-specific commissions, sound art installations, multimedia theatrical performances, dance and music concerts, and digital media, animation, and film presentations. MASS MoCA focuses on the work of artists charting new territory; works that blur the lines between visual and performing arts; and works that have seldom - or never -- been exhibited because of physical demands such as scale, materials, and fabrication methods.
To date, five monumental factory buildings have been transformed into more than 220,000 square feet of galleries, theaters, rehearsal studios, and art fabrication spaces, while preserving the rugged industrial feel of this former mill. The campus features: 19 light-filled galleries, including the largest gallery in the United States, as long as a football field, and another with a soaring, 40-foot trussed ceiling; the Hunter Center for the Performing Arts a 10,000 square foot flexible film stage/theater space and comprehensive backstage resources; and beautiful outdoor courtyards and stages for music, dance, and film.
The Evolution of a Cultural Factory for the 21st Century
Prominently sited at the confluence of the region's main river system, MASS MoCA's campus was built from 1872 to 1903 by Arnold Print Works, an international cloth manufacturer. The 27 buildings, which are listed on the National Historic Register, form an elaborate system of interlocking courtyards, viaducts, elevated walkways, and brick facades with a distinct architectural ambiance reminiscent of a small medieval city. The site was purchased in 1942 by the Sprague Electric Company, which for the next 30 years was one of the world's most successful producers of high-quality electronic components, employing 4,000 workers at its peak. By the early 1980s, foreign competition and changes in manufacturing affected company operations, and the company closed in 1985, leaving thousands of people out of work.
At the same time, the Williams College Museum of Art was investigating possible mill locations in the area to meet the vast spatial requirements of contemporary art installations. By 1987, an exciting idea crystallized: to convert the old Sprague factory into a mixed-use cultural and commercial complex that would not only create a dramatic platform for contemporary art, but also fulfill the needs of a community seeking to develop economic links to its regional cultural strengths. Based on a feasibility study by a prestigious team of architects including Bruner/Cott & Associates, Frank Gehry, and Robert Venturi, the Massachusetts legislature authorized an unprecedented $35 million matching grant to the city of North Adams for MASS MoCA in 1987.
A Cultural Factory for the 21st Century
MASS MoCA's extended planning and fundraising period gave a nascent institution the unique opportunity to evaluate the shifting role of cultural institutions in the 21st century and take the lead in responding to profound changes in the world of culture, communications, and philanthropy. By 1993, an expanded plan was developed: more than a static display hall, MASS MoCA was positioned as a multi-disciplinary center for the visual, performing, and media arts. In 1995, the state certified this exciting new concept, signaling the release of $18.6 million in matching funds to rehabilitate the complex.
MASS MoCA is open to the public every day from 10:00 AM 'til 5:00 PM and until 7:00 PM on Fridays and Saturdays. Weekends are highlighted by extensive performing arts programs ranging from national premieres to outdoor films to dance parties to concerts and shows. For a complete schedule of events or additional information on visiting this groundbreaking center, contact the MASS MoCA Box Office at 413 MOCA111 or visit http://www.massmoca.org