CLARK ART INSTITUTE OFFERS FREE ADMISSION FOR SIXTIETH ANNIVERSARY

For Immediate Release
May 11, 2015

Williamstown, Massachusetts—The Clark Art Institute celebrates its sixtieth anniversary on Sunday, May 17. Admission is free all day. Cake will be served on the Fernandez Terrace at noon, accompanied by selections performed by The Williams Octet, an all-male a cappella group founded in 1940, making it the oldest a cappella group at Williams College.
 
At 2 pm, enjoy a performance by the a cappella group Ephoria, a Williams College all-female group performing since 1979 that describe themselves as “dedicated to producing the finest music possible while enjoying extreme amounts of fun.”
 
A BRIEF HISTORY
 
On May 17, 1955, Sterling and Francine Clark presided over opening ceremonies for the institute that would bear their name and make their private collection available to the public. The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute opened under the guidance of its first director, former silver dealer Peter Guille. Initially, only two galleries were installed, and the majority of the works in the collection were not yet on view. Nonetheless, the Clark received critical acclaim, heralded in the Berkshire Evening Eagle as “a mecca of the art world.”
 
Over the next several years, the museum building’s galleries were fully installed, revealing the depth and grandeur of the Clark’s personal collection which included important works by Pierre-Auguste Renoir, John Singer Sargent, Piero della Francesca, Claude Monet, Thomas Gainsborough, Edgar Degas, and other noted masters. The Clark houses exceptional European and American paintings and sculpture, extensive collections of master prints and drawings, English silver, and early photography. The Institute’s collection has continued to grow through acquisitions of works that are appropriate to the nature of the collection and through the generosity of many donors. In 2007, the Manton Foundation made a gift of more three hundred paintings, drawings, and prints by British artists along with $50 million to establish the Manton Collection of British Art, the most significant addition of art to the collection since its founding.
 
Today, the Clark is recognized as one of the few institutions globally that is both an art museum and a center for research, critical discussion, and higher education in the visual arts. In 1972, the first class in an innovative master’s degree program in the history of art cosponsored by Williams College and the Clark began its course of study. To accommodate the program, as well as an expanded library, graduate seminar rooms, galleries, offices, and an auditorium, construction began on a second building on the campus—now known as the Manton Research Center—which was completed in 1973. The Clark library, open to the public with more than 240,000 volumes, is one of the nation’s premier art history libraries. Further underscoring its commitment to advancing scholarship in the field, the Institute developed its Research and Academic Program (RAP), welcoming its first residential Fellows in 1998. Since then, the Clark has hosted more than 300 scholars from twenty-seven nations. Acting as a convener, RAP hosts a series of colloquia, symposia, workshops, and lectures both on the campus and in venues in Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia. 
 
The Institute’s special exhibition program has grown considerably in scope and recognition over the last twenty years, including major exhibitions such as The Clark Brothers Collect (2006), The Unknown Monet: Pastels and Drawings (2007), Dove/O’Keeffe: Circles of Influence (2009), and Picasso Looks at Degas (2010). One of its most ambitious exhibitions to date will be this summer’s Van Gogh and Nature exhibition, featuring nearly fifty paintings and drawings from thirty museums and private collections around the world.
 
In 2001, the Clark began work on a master plan to guide in the development and preservation of the 140-acre campus, with the goal of providing necessary spaces to facilitate the Institute’s growing museum and research and academic programs, while providing needed amenities for more than 200,000 annual visitors and preserving the unique character of the Institute and its surroundings. In 2008, the first phase of the master plan was completed with the opening of the Stone Hill Center, now known as the Lunder Center at Stone Hill, which houses special exhibition galleries, a conference room, the laboratories and offices of the Williamstown Art Conservation Center, and an outdoor café. The building links to the Institute’s main campus through a series of walking trails through the Clark’s meadows and woodlands.
 
On July 4, 2014, the Clark celebrated the grand opening of its new Clark Center and the newly renovated the Museum Building, along with a reconceived landscape highlighted by a one-acre reflecting pool that unites the three buildings on the Clark’s lower campus. A series of important sustainability initiatives were incorporated into the design of the campus to ensure the continued stewardship of the Clark’s lands.
 
ABOUT THE CLARK
 
The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm, and open daily in July and August. Admission is $20; free year-round for Clark members, children 18 and younger, and students with valid ID. For more information, visit clarkart.edu or call 413 458 2303.
 
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