In 1972 the first graduate class entered the Clark in an innovative program co-sponsored by Williams College and the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. This rigorous two-year program affords students a thorough foundation for careers as academic and museum professionals. To accommodate such rapid growth, including an expanded library and a redirected and enlarged educational initiative, construction began on a new building, which was completed in 1973. Designed by Pietro Belluschi and The Architects Collaborative, the Manton Research Center houses a library, graduate seminar rooms, galleries, offices, and an auditorium. The auditorium allowed for the addition of children's education programs, film and lecture series, and concert programs.
The key element of Selldorf’s renovation of the Manton Research Center is the transformation of the former visitor services courtyard into a new reading room that serves the 264,000-volume art library and is accessible to all, bringing the public closer to the study of art. Leading out of this soaring space is the new Manton Study Center for Works on Paper, with an adjacent gallery for regular exhibitions of the Clark’s prints, drawings, and photography collection, as well as additional gallery space featuring the Manton Collection of British Art. Other highlights include a new bookstore and coffee bar.
“By distilling the essential character of these two buildings with very different architectural vocabularies, we were able to create a wholly revamped and refreshed Museum and Manton Research Center,” says Annabelle Selldorf, principal of Selldorf Architects. “The design changes may appear subtle to some, but required precision and restraint at all times. The result will better serve the Clark’s dual mission and enhance the visitor’s experience of the permanent collection."