Pittsfield’s Berkshire Museum is something of a throwback to the days when museums collected just about everything and decided what to do with it later. This gigantic old stone building has, over the past century, amassed significant collections of 19th and 20th century American art and sculpture; fossils from the age of the dinosaurs; an entire gallery of rocks and minerals; mummies and sarcophagi from ancient Babylonia; and jewelry and glasswork dating from the Roman Empire.
The Berkshire also features the “Little Cinema”, a 275-seat theater that features first- and second-run independent and foreign films (each film generally gets a weeklong run); if you’re feeling a little more hands-on, head downstairs, where more than twenty different tanks of various sizes house a wide variety of aquatic life. Or swing into the Discovery Room and spend some time with the reptiles and amphibians that dwell there. The Berkshire even has you covered if you’ve absorbed all you can and need a breather; upstairs on the second floor is the Ellen Crane Memorial Room, a meditative special events area with rubber-tile floor, brown oak walls, and furnishings that date from the room’s 1937 construction. This doesn’t even take into account the Feigenbaum Hall of Innovation, an interactive display of various scientific, political, technological and cultural breakthroughs made by Bershire natives, and the Alexander Calder room, where you can play with replicas of the famed artist’s wooden toys.
The museum offers periodic lectures and readings, and special “behind the scenes” tours are available to members. (JM)
The Berkshire Museum Information
- Public Transportation: Fair (accessible by BRTA buses 2 and 7)
- Handicapped Accessibility: Good
- Hours: Monday–Saturday 10 a.m.–5 p.m., open Thursdays until 8 p.m. (through September 1); Sunday Noon–5 p.m.; closed major holidays
- Admission: Adults $13; Children (3–18) $6; Members and Children (under 3) Free. Groups of 10 or more can purchase discounted tickets for $7 per person
- Tour: Self-guided tours are free with the price of admission
- Membership: Individual membership is $50 (Family/Household $75). Benefits are tiered with every member receiving free admission to the first floor galleries and Aquarium; invitations to exclusive exhibition openings; discounts on Museum programs including performances, camps, and lectures; $6 tickets to the Little Cinema; a 10% discount at the Museum Store; and E-mail newsletters about Museum news and upcoming activities
- Other Benefits: Reciprocal membership to other museums is available at the Sustainer Level ($125.