A decade of immense change began at the Clark in 1960. Francine Clark died in April, four years after her husband, and the museum received a significant additional endowment that enabled new acquisitions and special programmatic initiatives in the coming years. Additionally, the Clark Professorship was established at Williams College
. The professorship attracted art historians with high levels of expertise to the Clark, such as the noted Italian paintings and sculpture expert John Pope-Hennessy. Meanwhile, J. Phinney Baxter, former Williams College president; John E. Sawyer, president of Williams and a Clark trustee; Talcott Banks, future Clark board chair; and Dr. William Milliken, a leader among American museum directors, helped the Clark find direction and take its first major step toward establishing a center for research and academic programming. With this support, the Clark enlarged its educational and research focus, embraced the academic mission of the Clark’s 1950 charter, and established a graduate program
John Sawyer and his colleagues believed that an art history library was the first requirement for establishing a graduate program. In 1964, the Clark opened its library
, now one of the finest art history libraries in North America, after purchasing the entire bibliographical holdings of art historian Dr. W. R. Juynboll with a donation from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation
in New York. The following year, the Duveen art reference library was added.
Noted art historian George Heard Hamilton joined the Clark in June 1966 as director and head of the future graduate program. He quickly instigated change in the restrictive lending policy, allowing the Clark freedom in its exchanges with other institutions.
In 1972, the first graduate
class entered the Clark in an innovative program co-sponsored by Williams College and the Clark. This rigorous two-year program affords students a thorough foundation for careers as academic and museum professionals. To accommodate such rapid growth, 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 Williamstown Regional Art Conservation Laboratory, now known as the Williamstown Art Conservation Center
, was founded on the Clark’s campus in 1977. This nonprofit organization is dedicated to conservation and other issues of collection care. That same year, David S. Brooke became director of the Clark. In 1978 the Clark founded its membership
organization, Friends of the Clark, and in the 1980s the Clark began a program of significant acquisitions in many areas, including paintings, silver, prints, drawings, and the decorative arts. Important purchases during this time included Vulcan Presenting Arms to Venus for Aeneas
by François Boucher, Young Christian Girl in Prayer
by Paul Gauguin, and Port of Rouen: Unloading Wood
by Camille Pissarro.