Photo Tour: Art in the Berkshires

Ah, the Berkshires in springtime: those beautiful mountains along the border between Massachusetts and New York. The Massachusetts side is a cultural center, full of music and art. I spent a long weekend visiting art museums in the very northwest corner of Massachusetts. Here are a few pictures of the museums and what's around them.

For a larger version of any picture, click on it; a new window should open. When you close that window, this window should still be here.

Clock tower at Williams College
I drove from Albany, New York, which has a convenient airport for flights to the Berkshires (and cheap flights on Southwest Airlines). As soon as you drive across the Massachusetts state line on Route 2, both the architecture and the countryside change suddenly -- and you know that you're in New England. First stop: Williamstown, a pretty (and pretty typical) New England village with a couple of outstanding art museums.

This clock tower is at Williams College, a campus with a mixture of old and new architecture that makes it feel both peaceful and energized. On my walk to the art museum here, though, I also got the feeling...
The eyes have you
...that I was being watched. (Art thieves don't stand a chance.) More eyes, outside the art museum
Portraits, new and old
The museum is fun inside, too, with a big variety of artwork. Some of the artists are famous (that work above the stairs is Andy Warhol's, for instance) and some will be famous (among others, there was a show of student works that was as interesting as the rest of the museum). Inside Williams College art museum
This way? No, maybe not.
Entrance to MASS MoCA
MASS MoCA (The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) is also fun inside and out. It's in a restored factory in North Adams. This museum, and others like it, have helped to remake the economy of this corner of New England -- from the industry that used to keep it going, to the tourism that does so now.
Upside-down trees...
The first MASS MoCA exhibit you'll see is outside: those trees to the left. They're growing upside-down. After the trees were part-grown, the artist/researcher re-planted them. Most of their branches made a 180-degree turn, and one of the trunks did too. What's up?

Speaking of up, these spaced-out happy campers from the '60s, high on helium and Cherry Garcia ice cream, were part of the fun at the show called Fantastic!
...and high-sleeping people
North Adams, Mass.
There was another springtime show going on in downtown North Adams, which is just a block or two from MASS MoCA. (There are some interesting-looking places to eat, too, though most were closed by the time the museum closed, at 5, on this day in May. I had lunch at Brewhaha, a cafe with a punny name and some very creative food.)

To get downtown, cross under Route 2. Look -- and listen -- for squat metal boxes on either side of the street. These boxes amplify the vibrations in the structure of the Route 2 overpass; the sound changes as cars and trucks go over the bridge at different speeds and intervals. It's a fine and fun way to end a fine (and fun...) day in the Berkshires.

(These photographs are Copyright © 2003 by Jerry Peek. Much higher-resolution versions of most images, and many other images too, are available at Jerry Peek Photography. Photos are available at reduced prices, or free, for non-commercial use.)

[Other tours]

Contact us