MCLA introduces art shuttles to museums

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A new shuttle system will bring students from the College to several museums in the Berkshire area. (Photo courtesy of MCLA).

Considering the College’s long-held reputation for an strong art history graduate and undergraduate program, as well as its emphasis on experiencing and appreciating art, the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) Berkshire Cultural Resource Center’s decision to offer a free shuttle bus dubbed the ‘art shuttle’ has the potential to serve all College students.

The new art shuttle, launched on Thursday, March 3, is expected to run from 3-6 p.m. on weekdays and will be driven by hired student drivers from MCLA. It will drive in a loop that passes MCLA, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, the Williams College Museum of Art and the Clark Art Institute, and will continue looping throughout the afternoon.

In embarking on this project, the four partnering institutions seem to be making a concerted effort to engage students, as well as allowing students at the College to build connections with MCLA students. The shuttle, along with the Berkshire Regional Transit system and the College motorcoaches that operate over academic breaks, will provide further accessibility to students who could otherwise be stranded by the College’s remote location.

Above all, this shuttle will provide students at MCLA and the College with a much greater opportunity to experience world-class art beyond the borders of their respective campuses. Sebastian van Der Weide ’23 reported being “excited about the fact that there is extra free transportation to these museums.” Oliver Behrens ’22, however, said he has “some concerns about whether or not it would be redundant to add it when there is already a shuttle that does a Williamstown to North Adams loop.”

The new arts shuttle will be the latest addition to a long Berkshire legacy of access to art and emphasis on the importance of art. Whitney Stoddard, a professor who taught at the College for many decades, revolutionized the art history department with his teachings, which increased the College’s focus on art. MCLA also has a history of prioritizing art, likely given its proximity to a number of art museums, and the school has a student art gallery located on Main St. in North Adams.

The art shuttle is only about a week old, but it has the potential to bring increased art connections into the lives of students at the College and MCLA. It has the potential to draw students out from the library, from the coffee shop or from their regularly frequented study spots and take them somewhere new and exciting where they can be exposed to art.