June 2008 Opening of Conservation Center and Exhibition Space Completes First Phase of the Clark’s Institutional Expansion and Enhancement Program
For Immediate Release
May 30, 2008
The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute will open Stone Hill Center on June 22, 2008. Designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Tadao Ando with landscape architects Reed Hilderbrand Associates, the 32,000-square-foot building will expand the reach of the Clark’s exhibition programs, advance the field of conservation and make it more understandable to the public, and for the first time bring the visitor experience directly into the landscape.
Blending gracefully into the hillside just south of the Clark’s main campus, where it is integrated into the landscape through a network of scenic trails and paths. Stone Hill Center houses the Williamstown Art Conservation Center (WACC) and 2,500 square feet of intimate galleries dedicated to showing non-Western art, contemporary art, and the Clark’s collection. The building also has 1,000 square feet for classroom and meeting use.
Designed by Tadao Ando, a recognized master of landscape views and natural light, the two-story, wood-and-glass building provides vistas of the countryside on the north, east, and west, with a terrace and outdoor café offering a panorama of the Green Mountains and Taconic Range.
“The Clark’s special nature is defined by three intertwined aspects of its personality: its extraordinary art, its unique setting, and its commitment to the generation of new ideas,” said director Michael Conforti. “Stone Hill Center is in itself a superb new contribution to this identity, while also being part of a larger plan that will enlarge, reshape, and enhance the entire institution.”
Situated within the Clark’s 140-acre campus of rolling fields and woodlands and a short walk from the Clark’s two existing buildings, Stone Hill Center will host smaller-scale special exhibitions of works from the Clark’s collections, as well as loaned works of art from periods and cultures not usually seen at the Clark, such as non-Western and 20th-century art. The grounds surrounding the building will be used to display sculpture.
Also integral to Stone Hill Center is its light-flooded conservation facility—the only freestanding conservation center in the United States designed by a major architect—which will permit visitors to glimpse the work being done inside the labs, as well as its studio art classroom and conference room.
The inaugural exhibition, Homer and Sargent from the Clark, features iconic paintings from the Clark’s collection by these two important American artists including Winslow Homer’s Undertow and West Point, Prout’s Neck, and John Singer Sargent’s Fumée d’Ambre Gris and Portrait of Carolus-Duran. These bold American paintings will offer a wonderful complement to the soft painting of American artists in Like Breath on Glass: Whistler, Inness, and the Art of Painting Softly which is being shown in the Clark’s other galleries. Both exhibitions will be on view June 22 through October 19.
With the opening of Stone Hill Center, the Clark will have three different kinds of spaces for presenting art: traditional museum galleries in its original 1955 building, flexible spaces in the Manton Research Center, and intimate galleries attuned to their natural surroundings in Stone Hill Center.
Funding for this project has been provided by the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund, a program of the state of Massachusetts, administered through a collaborative agreement between MassDevelopment and the Massachusetts Cultural Council.
Institutional Expansion: Phase II
The opening of Stone Hill Center completes Phase I of the Clark’s ambitious program to expand its facilities and enhance its programs. With Phase II, also designed by Tadao Ando with Reed Hilderbrand, the Clark will reorient its entire main campus around a new landscape element—a 1.5-acre reflecting pool, which will serve in the winter as a public ice-skating pond—and will construct a new freestanding Exhibition, Visitor, and Conference Center, with galleries for special exhibitions, facilities for museum and academic programs, and a range of improved visitor amenities. Also included in Phase II is the renovation of the Clark’s original 1955 neo-classical building, which will create 40 percent more gallery space for the world-renowned permanent collection. Renovation of the Manton Research Center will increase and expand the facilities for the Clark’s research program and library. Phase II is scheduled for completion in 2013.
Tadao Ando and Reed Hilderbrand
Stone Hill Center is Tadao Ando’s first museum project set within a rural American landscape and only the third building he has completed in this country. Ando was selected as the architect for the Clark’s expansion and campus enhancement because of his contemplative style and ability to weave architecture seamlessly into a natural environment.
Reed Hilderbrand Associates was selected to work with Ando on the Clark’s expansion because of the firm’s deep understanding of New England’s natural environments and cultural life. The firm’s experience in the Berkshires has consistently emphasized the area’s rural character, including the types of ponds, trails, meadows, and scenic vistas found on the grounds of the Clark.
The Williamstown Art Conservation Center
The Williamstown Art Conservation Center (WACC), a nonprofit organization located on the campus of the Clark, treats objects ranging from historic artifacts, antiques, and heirlooms to some of the most important paintings, watercolors, drawings, photographs, sculpture, and furniture in the country. Founded in 1977 to address the conservation and preservation needs of a small consortium of collecting institutions in the Northeast, the center now serves more than 55 member museums and historical societies, as well as many individuals and corporations. WACC conservators also manage and staff the Atlanta Art Conservation Center, established 2001 in partnership with the High Museum of Art.
The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown. The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm (daily in July and August). Admission June 1 through October 31 is $12.50 for adults, free for children 18 and younger, members, and students with valid ID. Admission is free November 1 through May 31. For more information, call 413-458-2303 or visit www.clarkart.edu.