The Berkshires: MASS MoCA
Edited & Published by Dina Reis, CEO & editor-in-chief of ReisMag.com
I love it when old factories have been repurposed into something else—so in North Adams, MA., the Sinclair Electric Co. factory complex is now the enormous MASS MoCA. Just walking through the galleries is an experience not to be missed.
Manufacturing began at the site in late1700s and early 1800s with a shoe manufacturer, a brickyard, sawmill, and ironworks among the many industries at that site.Then the O. Arnold and Company Print Works brought textile manufacturing to the site from 1860-1942, with the depression as the reason that mill shuttered. Later that year Sprague Electric company moved in and was in operation until 1985.
Mass MoCA.org explains what happened next, “In 1986, just a year after Sprague’s closing, the business and political leaders of North Adams were seeking ways to creatively re-use the vast Sprague complex. The staff of the Williams College Museum of Art, led by its director, Thomas Krens—who would later become Director of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum—was seeking economic space to exhibit large works of contemporary art that would not fit in conventional museum galleries. When North Adams Mayor John Barrett III suggested the vast Marshall Street complex as a possible exhibition site, the idea of creating a contemporary arts center in North Adams began to take shape.
“Joseph C. Thompson, Krens’ colleague at the Williams College Museum of Art, was named founding director of MASS MoCA and spearheaded the project’s launch after Krens went to the Guggenheim in 1988, shortly after the Massachusetts legislature voted its support for the project. Subsequent economic upheaval in Massachusetts threatened the project, but broad-based support from the community and the private sector, which pledged more than $8 million in matching funds, eventually won the day.”
When I told friends we were going to Mass MoCA, they simply said “Nick Cave”. And we are so glad we caught his exhibition called “Nick Cave: Until” before it closed Sept 4. It was magical. As one of the guards described the installation, “It’s Cave’s view of heaven.”
The ever-changing exhibits are Mass MoCa are massive and are perfectly wed to the enormous galleries. Going to Mass MoCA is an experience.
Photo Courtesy MASS MOCA
Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art
1040 MASS MoCA Way
North Adams, MA 01247