Clark readies for next phase of renovations, aims to finish in 2014

On Oct. 18, the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute answered questions concerning the museum’s upcoming renovation, a $145 million construction project scheduled for completion in June 2014.

According to Vicky Saltzman, director of communications at the Clark, the white marble building, the museum’s main space, will close for renovations on Nov. 13. During the three-year expansion project, the exhibits currently housed in this space will be moved to the Manton Research Center.

The changes being made to the Clark include the renovation of the main museum building and the Manton Research Center, as well as the construction of a new 44,000 square-foot visitor, exhibition and conference center designed by architect Tadao Ando. The redesign team also includes architects Anabelle Selldorf and Gary Hilderbrand.

Saltzman added that a landscaping project will also be part of the remodeling, and it includes the creation of a giant reflecting pool that will double as an ice rink during the winter. According to The Berkshire Eagle, the Clark’s gallery space will increase by 45 percent, and the facility’s redesign also includes the expansion of its hiking trails.

The remodeling is being paid for in large part through fundraising efforts, which have garnered $102 million thus far and will continue, Saltzman said. She added that the Massachusetts state agency Mass. Development has issued $30 million in bonds to help finance the project.

In addition to the Manton Research Center, the Stone Hill Research Center will remain open at certain times during the construction process, Saltzman said.

Peter Low, chair and associate professor of art, called the planned renovations “a very positive development for the art department as well as for the Clark, because, for one thing, the expansion will be in itself an attraction that draws more people to see art in Williamstown.”

“The renovations are about increasing exhibition space, increasing space for studying and for research and increasing conference space at the Clark,” Low said. “These are all tremendous pluses for the art department.”

Low added that the changes will serve to make the “dynamic arts community in Williamstown even more dynamic and to help the Clark’s presence as a major player on the world stage.”

The College’s art department currently makes extensive use of the Clark’s facilities and resources. Many undergraduate classes, such as Art History 102, visit the Clark and work with the museum’s art pieces. Furthermore, the graduate program is housed at the Clark. Thus the impact of the renovations on the graduate program will be significant, according to Low. Faculty and staff also use the Clark’s research facilities.

Low said that the art department’s relationship with the Clark will likely not be affected greatly by the renovations since works will still be available for class use. He added that if some works of art are unavailable, the small inconvenience this will constitute is incomparable to the greater good that will result from the museum’s remodeling.

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