Williamstown’s Clark Hosts a Summer Fete
Photograph by Kevin Sprague
Even if just for the two enticingly-titled shows opening there, Like Breath on Glass: Whistler, Inness, and the Art of Painting Softly and Homer and Sargent from the Clark, it would be worth the drive to Williamstown. But this Sunday, there’s so much added incentive to visit the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, commonly known as The Clark, it’s irresisitable: At high noon, there will be a ribbon cutting on their new Stone Hill Center, a 32,000-square-foot art conservation facility with gallery spaces designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Japanese architect Tadao Ando. To celebrate, there will be day-long festivities, including guided tours of the new building, a lecture on the new exhibitions at the museum, live music, self-guided hikes through the trails on the Clark’s 140-acre campus, and special picnic fare. So bring the kids, bring grumpy old Dad-who-never-wants-to-do-anything, bring a picnic blanket, and make a day of it. On this special community day, admission is free (that should cheer up the old boy).
The Stone Hill Center is the dramatic result of the first phase of the Clark’s ambitious expansion plan. With a commanding site on the wooded slope of Stone Hill, the Center features two intimate galleries for special exhibitions and a new, state-of-the-art facility for the Williamstown Art Conservation Center. Tadao Ando’s work is known for its creative use of natural light and for the way his buildings follow the natural forms of a landscape in a minimally disruptive way. The paths leading to and from the entrances to an Ando building can be as significant as the passageways within it, and those he’s created at the Stone Hill Center merit exploration.
As do the Clark campus’s long-established hiking trails . The Pasture Loop and the longer Stone Bench Loop, meander through woodland and meadow. The trails will open at 11 a.m. and maps to aid self-guided hikes are available. Both loops offer wonderful views of Williamstown and the surrounding mountains.
Family-friendly barbeque fare will be available for purchase throughout the day at Stone Hill Center cafe and at the picnic tent near the south lawn. From the umbrella-shaded tables on the Center’s terrace, there are fantastic views of the Green Mountains and Taconic Range. The Clark’s campus is dotted with picnic tables and inviting spaces to spread out picnic blankets. There will be music—Odaiko New England (ONE), a group that weaves elements of taiko (traditional Japanese ensemble drumming) with contemporary influences.
A day as option-packed as this one can create a quandary—what to do first? In fact, there are only three or four activities, tops, that are scheduled: 11 is the earliest opportunity to sign-up for the limited-capacity 20-minutes guided tours of the new center. (The first tour is at 12:30) The ribbon cutting is at noon. And the free lecture by Clark curators Marc Simpson and Cody Hartley, who are responsible for the new exhibitions (detail of Summer, c.1850, by Thomas Wilmer Dewing, above), is at 3. Other than that, it’s up to you.
The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
225 South Street; Williamstown; 413.458.2303.
Sunday, June 22; 11 - 5
Before July 1 & after August 31: Tuesday - Sunday, 10 - 5
July & August, daily 10 - 5
Admission June 1 - October 31: $12.50/adults; Free/members, 18 & younger, & students
Admission November 1 - May 31: Free