The Berkshires are an area of natural beauty in western Massachusetts, bordering Connecticut, New York, and Vermont, that has long been a favorite vacation destination. During the Gilded Age of the late 19th century, when Vanderbilts, Sloanes, and Morgans were building hundred-room “cottages” there, the Berkshires was dubbed “The Inland Newport.” More recently (2009), National Geographic named the Berkshires one of the ten best destinations on Earth, deeming it “a cultural hideaway.” The leading art museums in the Berkshires, Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), and the Norman Rockwell Museum are as highly regarded in the art world as their Berkshire neighbors are in their own niches: Tanglewood, summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, and the Berkshire and Williamstown Theatre Festivals.
Located less than ten miles apart in the northern Berkshires, the Clark Art Institute and Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art present permanent and changing exhibitions that can satisfy the most diverse tastes in the visual arts. For example, the permanent collection at the Clark includes works by Renoir, Monet, Homer, and Sargent, whereas visitors to MASS MoCA can view a massive installation of work by Sol LeWitt through 2033! Less than an hour’s drive away are the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, where the beloved painter lived for 25 years, and Chesterwood, the studio museum where Daniel Chester French sculpted the seated Lincoln for the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, DC. (Dave Conlin Read)