Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute to Open Its Transformed Campus on July 4, 2014 with Four Special Exhibitions
For Immediate Release
December 12, 2013
Project Reconceives the Campus and Enhances Sustainability, Expands
Gallery Space for the Collection and Special Exhibitions, and
Improves the Visitor Experience
WILLIAMSTOWN, MA—The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute will inaugurate new and expanded facilities on its 140-acre campus on July 4, 2014. The project, which reconceptualizes the visitor’s experience of the Clark, culminates a decade-long expansion program and represents the most significant transformation of the Institute since its first building opened to the public in 1955.
Combining the talents of three noted architects, the project unites a new Visitor Center designed by Tadao Ando Architects, Osaka, Japan, with an expanded Museum Building and the renovated Manton Research Center, both designed by Selldorf Architects, New York. These buildings surround a new one-acre reflecting pool, the highlight of a dramatic rethinking of the Clark’s landscape designed by Reed Hilderbrand, Watertown, Massachusetts. The expansion project adds more than 13,000 square feet of gallery space, supporting the Clark's expanded collection and exhibition programs, and establishes the Institute as a leader in best practices for sustainability and energy efficiency.
“The expansion project advances the Clark's dual mission as both an art museum and a center for research and higher education," said Director Michael Conforti. “Since developing our master plan more than ten years ago, we have worked diligently to connect our program and support spaces with our extraordinary landscape, all with the goal of best serving the thousands of people who come from all over the world to visit the Clark each year. What now looks simple, and so logical, has been achieved through a complex and environmentally sensitive design and construction program that unites many disparate parts.”
Included in this final phase of the project are:
- A new 42,600-square-foot Visitor Center designed by Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando, which includes more than 11,000 square feet of gallery space for special exhibitions; a multi-purpose pavilion for conferences, lectures, and events; new dining, retail, and family spaces; and an all-glass Museum Pavilion that creates a new entrance to the original Museum Building.
- Expansion and renovation of the original Museum Building designed by Selldorf Architects, which includes the addition of more than 2,200 square feet of gallery space and a careful restoration of the existing galleries; installation of new lighting and environmental controls; and creation of a new west-to-east orientation for the Museum Building.
- Renovation of public areas in the Manton Research Center, also designed by Selldorf Architects, which includes the new Manton Study Center for Works on Paper and an adjoining gallery; a new public reading room; and a bookstore and coffee bar.
- A sweeping redesign of the Clark’s grounds by Reed Hilderbrand, which underscores the Clark’s commitment to environmental stewardship of its lands by significantly enhancing sustainability initiatives across the campus and integrating green design practices intended to bring the project a silver LEED certification. Key elements of the program include creation of a three-tiered reflecting pool that is the focal point of the redesigned campus and part of an advanced water management system that reduces the Clark’s potable water consumption by approximately 50 percent, or one million gallons annually; upgrades to and expansion of walking trails; green roof systems; planting of 350 new trees on the site; and creation of a new entry drive and parking areas that feature water permeable surfaces feeding into a rainwater collection system.
“The addition of special exhibition and education space in the new Visitor Center, coupled with the renovation of our Museum Building, enables us to present our collection and expand the provocative exhibitions for which the Clark is noted in new and interesting ways,” Conforti said. “In the Manton Research Center we have created an environment that provides greater public access to our research and academic mission by enhancing our library facilities and creating a dedicated study center and gallery for our growing collection of works on paper. On the campus, Reed Hilderbrand’s work has brought renewed ecological health to the land, helping to improve our significant natural assets.”
Planning for the Clark project began with a 2001 study by Cooper, Robertson & Partners that reconceived the campus. Gensler, New York, is the Executive Architect for all phases of the project, including:
- Construction of Stone Hill Center, housing galleries that allow the Clark to present smaller exhibitions including non-Western and twentieth-century art; the Hunter Studio art classroom space; a seasonal terrace café; and the Williamstown Art Conservation Center’s facilities (completed in 2008)
- Creation of more than two miles of public walking trails traversing the Clark’s hillsides and woodland areas and connecting the main campus to the Stone Hill Center site
- Demolition of the Clark’s former physical plant building to make way for the new water feature
- Construction of new below-grade support facilities, including a loading dock; physical plant; art transit and storage spaces; and a food service kitchen (completed in 2012)
- Upgrades to all major utilities and installation of a new series of geothermal wells across the campus
- Installation of an additional 650 trees on the Clark’s campus (a total of 1,000)
At the time of the opening, the Clark will present four inaugural special exhibitions and the reinstallation of its extraordinary art collections, demonstrating both the depth and breadth of the Clark’s holdings, and integrating new scholarship in its interpretation of these works. The exhibitions include Make It New: Abstract Paintings from the National Gallery of Art, 1950–1975; Cast for Eternity: Ancient Ritual Bronzes from the Shanghai Museum; Raw Color: The Circles of David Smith, and Photography and Discovery.
The reinstallation of the permanent collection also marks the return of seventy-three works from the Clark’s collection of nineteenth-century French paintings after a three-year world tour. Some two million people have seen the collection at ten venues, from the Museo del Prado in Madrid to its most recent presentation at the Shanghai Museum. The exhibition’s final presentation opens at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston on December 22, 2013.
“The summer of 2014 will be a special time in the Berkshires, a region noted internationally for its extraordinary cultural venues,” Conforti said. “The Clark will be a place of discovery—inside and out—that visitors will want to explore. Between the many other museums in the region and the wonderful performances at Tanglewood and the Berkshires’ many theater and dance companies, we hope to engage the world in discovering one of the nation’s most exceptional artistic and cultural communities.”
The Ando-designed stone, concrete, and glass Visitor Center, situated northwest of the museum building, is the new centerpiece of the Clark’s campus and serves as its primary visitor entrance. The two-story building overlooks a broad three-tiered pool, designed by Tadao Ando and Reed Hilderbrand, integrating indoor and outdoor spaces and creating a stunning visual connection to adjacent buildings and the woodland surroundings. The building’s new 11,000-square-foot special exhibition galleries are located below grade, partially situated beneath a green roof that forms an exterior courtyard at the main entrance to the facility. The visitor lobby overlooks the reflecting pool and is highlighted by a dramatic glass and concrete stairway that accesses the galleries, dining, and family areas located below. The Clark’s primary retail facility is located on the building’s first floor, with interiors designed by California-based wHY Architecture and Design, led by principal Kulapat Yantrasast, who also handled the design of the dining area. A granite and glass corridor links the Visitor Center to the Ando-designed Museum Pavilion, a glass structure that creates a light-filled transitional space connected to the Museum Building’s new west-facing entrance.
“I like to accomplish art spaces that inspire viewers and evoke their creativity and freedom of thinking,” said Ando. “I have always been in awe of the Clark’s unique sense of place in nature. In both the Visitor Center and Stone Hill Center, I have tried to express a deep respect for the landscape outside and an equal reverence for the art inside. It is critical that the art speak for itself and that viewers experience it in their own way.”
Selldorf Architects’ renovation of the Clark’s original Museum Building adds more than 2,200 square feet of new gallery space, a fifteen percent increase that creates a total of 17,700 square feet of space for display of the permanent collection. The new design maintains the original domestic character of the building, with views of the adjacent landscape and natural light that comes in from both side windows and skylights. Selldorf’s adaptation of former office and storage areas into new galleries enables the Clark to present more of its collection in originally scaled galleries. Circulation has been greatly enhanced in the renovation by reorienting the building to its original east-west axis and creating a new ease of access to perimeter galleries. Selldorf worked closely with the Clark’s curatorial team on the selection of wall colors and finishes for the reinstalled galleries and created elegant new casework and vitrines for the decorative arts collection along with custom-designed furniture. New environmental systems and lighting work together to bring the building to the highest museum standards.
Manton Research Center
Selldorf’s design for the renovation of the Manton Research Center—a 1973 building designed by Pietro Belluschi with The Architects Collaborative—reinforces the building’s purpose as a center for research and academic activities, and as home to both the Williams College Graduate Program in the History of Art and one of the largest art history research libraries in the country. The key element of the renovation is the transformation of the former visitor services courtyard to a new reading room, bringing the public closer to the study of art. Selldorf has also designed the new Manton Study Center for Works on Paper on the main level with an adjacent gallery for regular exhibitions of the Clark’s prints, drawings, and photography collection as well as the creation of a gallery space dedicated to 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,” said 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.”
Reed Hilderbrand, led by principal Gary Hilderbrand, worked in close collaboration with Tadao Ando to articulate a dramatic new landscape design for the Clark that achieves new levels of environmental sustainability and creates an exceptional visitor experience. The unifying element of the landscape is the tiered reflecting pool that creates the focal point of the new main campus and unites the three surrounding buildings with the natural setting. The reflecting pool is at the heart of an integrated hydrology program that significantly reduces the Clark's consumption of natural resources and enhances its land management practices. Other key elements of the design include substantial new plantings of native species, including some 1,000 trees and the concurrent removal of invasive plants; upgrades to the existing network of walking paths and trails; a new entrance drive; and landscaped parking areas that accommodate 340 vehicles.
“Our design for the final phase of the campus brings the landscape into exemplary alignment with the Clark’s commitment to stewardship,” said Gary Hilderbrand. “The beauty of the reflecting pool and surrounding lands are certainly important, but we’re extremely satisfied with the knowledge that we have evolved, over the last ten years, a complex landscape that reflects its cultural roots in the Northern Berkshires and amplifies the natural processes that shape its topographic and spatial beauty.”
Inaugural Special Exhibitions
The four special exhibitions opening on July 4 are:
Make It New: Abstract Paintings from the National Gallery of Art, 1950–1975
Ando’s modernist Visitor Center galleries host an exhibition that examines the different paths taken by abstract painting in the immediate postwar period. Drawn largely from the National Gallery of Art’s exceptional collection, the exhibition features some of the greatest works of mid-century abstract art: Jackson Pollock’s iconic painting Number 1, 1950 (Lavender Mist), along with key paintings by Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman, Jean Dubuffet, Cy Twombly, Helen Frankenthaler, Jasper Johns, and Yayoi Kusama. Ranging from experiments with color and geometry to works in cloth, wax, and other materials, Make It New looks at the ways in which artists continued to expand the definition of painting during this time. This exhibition is organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington, in collaboration with the Clark, and is curated by Harry Cooper, Curator of Modern Art, National Gallery of Art and David Breslin, Associate Director of the Clark’s Research and Academic Program and Associate Curator of Contemporary Projects.
Cast for Eternity: Ancient Ritual Bronzes from the Shanghai Museum
On view in the West Pavilion gallery of the Visitor Center, Cast for Eternity presents some of the finest surviving examples of early bronze work from the Shanghai Museum’s exceptional collection. These rare bronze works, dating from the late Xia Dynasty through the Western Han dynasties (c. 1800 bce–c. 8 ce), represent the finest quality craftsmanship and artistic accomplishment from China’s Bronze Age. This exhibition continues the Clark’s partnership with China’s Ministry of Culture and a number of Chinese cultural institutions that was originally inspired by the centennial commemoration of Sterling Clark’s early scientific expedition to northern China. The curatorial team, led by Tom Loughman, assistant deputy director of the Clark, includes representatives from the Clark and the Shanghai Museum. The exhibition is designed by Selldorf Architects.
Raw Color: The Circles of David Smith
Installed in the intimately scaled galleries and surrounding outdoor spaces of the Clark’s Stone Hill Center, Raw Color: The Circles of David Smith presents a selection of works by one of the most celebrated sculptors of the twentieth century. The exhibition marks the first time in more than thirty years that all five of the key sculptures from Smith’s Circle series (1962–63) are shown together. Its presentation on the Clark’s Berkshires campus creates a setting that is similar to (and less than one hundred miles away from) Smith’s Bolton Landing, New York home where the artist created and installed them. This exhibition is curated by David Breslin, Associate Director of the Clark’s Research and Academic Program and Associate Curator of Contemporary Projects.
Photography and Discovery
The first exhibition in the Clark’s new Manton Study Center for Works on Paper, Photography and Discovery considers three different modes of discovery that unfolded during the medium’s early years and focuses on discovery of geography, genre, and process. The exhibition marks the first significant exhibition of the Clark’s growing photography collection. Photography and Discovery is curated by Jay A. Clarke, Manton Curator of Prints, Drawings, and Photographs at the Clark.
About the Clark
The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. The galleries are open daily in July and August (open Tuesday through Sunday from September through June), 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is $20 June 1 through October 31; free November through May; and 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.