E-mail This Page


For Immediate Release

March 11, 2005

Facility along Old Stone Hill Road will house galleries, classroom, outdoor café, and Williamstown Art Conservation Center, to begin the Clark's expansion and campus enhancement project.


WILLIAMSTOWN, MA (March 11, 2005) - The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute has selected Pritzker-Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando to design a second building on its South Street campus. The new gallery and conservation center, the important first step in the Clark's overall expansion announced in 2003, will be located on the wooded hillside along Old Stone Hill Road on the Clark's campus, about 1,000 feet south of its existing buildings. The 32,000 square-foot wood building will house new galleries, an art studio classroom, an outdoor café, and the Williamstown Art Conservation Center (WACC). A shelter for hikers and skiers who use the nearby trails is also planned. Designs for the facility at Stone Hill, estimated at about $20 million, will be unveiled in the fall. The Clark will break ground between fall 2005 and spring 2006, and open the building in the summer of 2007. 

The site and architect selection were officially approved by the Clark's trustees at their March meeting this past weekend. Reed Hilderbrand Associates of Watertown, Massachusetts, the firm working with Ando on the campus enhancement, will also be landscape architects for the Stone Hill facility.

"We are delighted that Mr. Ando will design the first phase of our expansion," said Michael Conforti, director of the Clark. "We will now begin to realize the master plan for the campus that we have been working on for several years. Ando's designs for this first phase building and his sensitivity to landscape will unite the entire campus with a coordinated vision. I know he will design a beautiful building that will enhance the great natural beauty of Stone Hill. The woodland galleries will provide a unique, contemplative experience of art in nature. This building will also offer new exhibition and educational programs for the community while providing a state-of-the-art facility for the Williamstown Art Conservation Center. Furthermore, the integration of this site with existing trails will enhance the experience of the campus for the visitors, students, and community residents who have long appreciated the special views and trails of Stone Hill."

The facility will be located approximately 1,000 feet to the south of the Clark's 1973 red granite building and 100 feet from the Buxton School property line, near old Stone Hill Road. The level area, about one third of the way up the hill, was a farm field as recently as the 1950s. The meadow and crest of Stone Hill, a well-known feature of the Clark's campus, will remain untouched, and the Clark will maintain and add to the walking and hiking trails there.

"Much of the Stone Hill area was open farmland over the past century," said Gary Hilderbrand of Reed Hilderbrand Associates. "Aerial photographs from the 1920s and 1960s indicate open fields and hedgerows. Today the site has a forest cover of varied character. We intend to preserve and enhance the stream corridor and to save any heritage trees along the hedgerows. We will also be replanting many areas to achieve a mix of woodland and open meadow."

Ando will design new space for WACC to their specifications, providing much-needed expanded workspace and northern light. In addition, the building will provide opportunities for public viewing of conservators at work, which is not possible at WACC's current location on the central part of the Clark campus. WACC's needs are estimated at approximately 12,000 square feet. The move of the Conservation Center is the crucial first step in the Clark's overall expansion project. The building now housing WACC, a service building constructed in 1964, will be torn down to make way for the visitor/conference center and one-and-one-half acre reflecting pool designed by Ando.

"The staff and I look forward to seeing the space that Mr. Ando will design and are thrilled to be finally moving forward on our much-needed expansion," said Thomas Branchick, director of the WACC.

The facility will also include new galleries, which will initially be programmed in the summer. Small, chapel-like spaces will host intimate exhibitions of works of art from the Clark's collections or loaned works from periods and origins not normally seen at the Clark, from 20th-century paintings to Asian sculpture. In addition, space surrounding the building will have potential for outdoor sculpture displays. A flexible classroom/art studio space will allow the Clark to offer hands-on art classes and other educational programs for which there is no space in the current building. The space needed for the non-conservation functions of the facility is estimated at 6,000 square feet.

A country drive will connect the Stone Hill facility to the main campus. In addition, visitors can walk to the building on two scenic trails connecting it to the system of already well-used trails on the hill. Visitors and local residents who hike, ski, and snowshoe on Stone Hill may also use the new lot to park. Visitor amenities on the site will include restrooms (open to the public even when the galleries are closed) and a year-round shelter for hikers and skiers. A terrace with views of the Green Mountains will be open year-round and will also be used for outdoor dining in the summer and occasional special events.

Some of the programs to be offered in the Stone Hill facility had originally been planned for another location, on Route 7 in Williamstown between Mount Greylock Regional High School and Sweetwood Continuing Care Community. Insufficient water supply to that location led the Clark to relocate the phase 1 project on South Street.

Building Expansion and Campus Enhancement
In 2003, the Clark unveiled designs for a building expansion and campus enhancement designed by Ando.  The Clark's building will be Ando's first museum project set within a rural American landscape.  The main Ando building will include new gallery space to present more of the Clark's growing collection, particularly American art and decorative arts.  Enhanced special exhibition galleries and visitor services such as orientation facilities, a shop, and restaurant, will support the Clark's role as a public art museum. The new facility will also support the continued growth of the Institute's seminal research and academic program. 

The Clark
Celebrating 50 years of art in nature in 2005-2006, the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is one of the country's foremost art museums and also a dynamic center for research and higher education in art history and criticism. The Clark's exceptional collections of Old Master, Impressionist, and 19th-century American art on display in the museum's intimate galleries are enhanced by its dramatic 140-acre setting in the Berkshires. The Clark organizes special exhibitions in collaboration with leading museums in the United States and Europe.  These exhibitions advance the public understanding of art by presenting new scholarship and challenging ideas in popular and visually appealing ways.  Upcoming exhibitions will include Jacques-Louis David: Empire to Exile (Summer 2005) and Winslow Homer (Fall 2005).

The Clark offers a range of public education and community programs that actively engage people of all ages and backgrounds.  In addition to providing free gallery and classroom programs to schools, the Clark fully funds transportation costs for any school group that can travel to Williamstown by bus in one day.  The Clark presents an annual family festival each summer as well as indoor family programs throughout the year, engaging children and adults alike in the arts through educational activities, entertainment, and hands-on experiences related to special exhibitions and the collection. Adult education includes art history courses for the public and for the Berkshire Institute of Lifelong Learning.   Frequent gallery talks enhance the experience of the collections, including regular talks for new mothers with infants and monthly talks for working people on their lunch hour.   As the authoritative voice of the visual arts in the region, the Clark offers free public lectures on special exhibitions, the collection, and other topics. The Clark also presents films as well as chamber, folk, and world music concerts. Local organizations often present programs in the Clark's auditorium. 

The Clark is one of only a few art museums in the United States that is also a major research and academic center, with an international fellowship program and regular conferences, symposia, and colloquia, and an important art research library. The Clark, together with Williams College, jointly sponsors one of the nation's leading M.A. programs in art history and encompasses one of the most comprehensive art history libraries in the world. Its Fellows and conference programs draw university and museum professionals from around the world.


Return to the previous page