WILLIAMSTOWN, MA- The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute announced today that Stone Hill Center, the first phase of its expansion and institutional enhancement program, will open June 22, 2008. Designed by architect Tadao Ando, with landscape architects Reed Hilderbrand, the new building is located on a wooded hillside a short walk from the Clark’s two existing buildings.
The new building has been sited and designed to take advantage of the Clark’s dramatic rural setting, which distinguishes the institution among major art museums worldwide. Stone Hill Center will feature intimately scaled galleries with wall-sized windows, creating a setting for experiencing works of art that integrates the surrounding countryside and gradually changing natural light. The new building will include a studio art classroom, a conference room, and an outdoor café. It will also serve as the new home for the Williamstown Art Conservation Center.
The two-story, 32,000-square-foot wood-and-glass building blends gracefully into the Clark’s hillside, revealing only one level when approached from its main entry to the south. The building is open to the landscape on all sides allowing for dramatic views to the north, east, and west. A large terrace provides spectacular panoramic views of the Green Mountains and Taconic Range. Large expanses of glass capture the northern light for the conservators and provide visitors with a view into the studio space.
Stone Hill Center will host smaller-scale special exhibitions of works from the Clark’s collections, as well as loaned works of art from periods and origins not usually seen at the Clark, such as non-Western and twentieth-century art. The grounds surrounding the building will also be used for sculpture space.
The inaugural exhibition will be Through the Seasons: Japanese Art in Nature, presenting seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Japanese painted screens and hanging scroll paintings together with contemporary Japanese ceramics evocative of traditional ceramic styles and natural motifs. The exhibition will be on view from June 22 to October 13, 2008.
“The Clark is the only major art museum in the United States that is located in such a dramatic rural setting and Stone Hill Center enables us to use this distinction to provide an unparalleled ‘art in nature’ experience for the many people who visit the Clark and the curators, conservators, scholars, and students who work here,” noted Michael Conforti, director of the Clark. “It is a resource that enhances our ability to advance all parts of our mission-both as a public museum and center for art historical research, advanced education, and professional development.”
Institutional Expansion: Phase II
The second phase of the Clark’s expansion and institutional enhancement program includes the creation of another new, stand-alone building-also designed by Ando-adjacent to its current facilities. This new building will house special exhibition galleries, visitor orientation services, and education and conference spaces. Scheduled for completion in 2013, Phase II also encompasses the upgrade and internal expansion of the Clark’s current buildings. The new buildings and renovations will enable the Clark to reorganize the use of its facilities and further advance its dual mission as a major art museum and leading international center for research and higher education.
Ando’s and Reed Hilderbrand‘s designs will also better unify and reorient the Clark’s buildings to each other and to Stone Hill Center, and toward its 140-acre campus of rolling woodlands and fields. The plan includes the relocation of the Clark’s parking lots from behind its buildings and the creation of new walking trails throughout the grounds.
The Clark will be centralizing its Research and Academic Program in its 1973 building, recently renamed the Manton Research Center. The growth and enhancement of this program has been greatly accelerated by the unprecedented gift from the Manton Foundation in 2007, which included a $50 million endowment for the collection, research and academic programming, and the creation of a study center for works on paper. The Clark’s programs in this area include visiting fellows and regular conferences and symposia. The Clark, together with Williams College, jointly sponsors one of the nation’s leading master’s programs in art history, one that has been an important part of the professional training of many leaders of the art museum community. It also houses one of the most comprehensive art history libraries in the country.
The Clark’s original 1955 neo-classical building with its suite of traditional galleries dedicated to the museum’s outstanding permanent collection will also be renovated. It will be expanded by more than 40% by transforming spaces that have been used for offices, storage, and other support functions into new galleries. The Clark’s outstanding collections have grown by more than 25% since its founding. Recent gifts and acquisitions include an exceptional collection of over 200 eighteenth- and nineteenth-century English paintings and drawings from the Manton Foundation encompassing works by J. M. W. Turner, John Constable, and Thomas Gainsborough, among others. Other notable recent acquisitions include Eugène Delacroix’s Two Horses Fighting in a Stormy Landscape (late 1820s), Camille Pissarro’s The Haymakers (c. 1895), and Jacques-Louis David’s Portrait of Comte Henri-Amédé de Turenne (1816) among others.
The renovation, upgrading, and reconfiguration of the Manton Research Center and museum building are being implemented under the design direction of Selldorf Architects. Founding principal Annabelle Selldorf’s work is recognized for balancing sensitivity to a building’s history and location with contemporary design. She was selected to create a seamless renovation that will harmoniously blend the old and new spaces.
Upon completion, the new Visitor, Exhibition, and Conference Center designed by Ando will host the Clark’s special exhibitions. During the past decade, the Clark has organized groundbreaking exhibitions that advance new scholarship while enhancing the public’s appreciation of art. Many of its recent exhibitions have been based on original research that has provided new insight into artists and movements that both scholars and the public believe they know well. Recent exhibitions include: Gustav Klimt Landscapes (2002); Turner: The Late Seascapes (2003); Jacques-Louis David: Empire to Exile (2005); and The Unknown Monet: Pastels and Drawings (2007).
With the opening of Stone Hill Center, the Clark will have three different kinds of spaces for presenting art: a suite of traditional museum galleries in its original 1955 building, flexible spaces in the Manton Research Center, and intimate galleries attuned to their natural surroundings in Stone Hill Center. With the completion of the second phase and the relocation of the special exhibition galleries to the Visitor, Exhibition, and Conference Center, the Clark will gain yet another kind of space-large, loft-like flexible galleries for its ambitious program of public exhibitions-for the public, students, and professional community to experience works of art.
Tadao Ando and Reed Hilderbrand
The Stone Hill Center is Tadao Ando’s first museum project set within a rural American landscape. Ando was selected as the architect for the Clark’s expansion and campus enhancement because of his contemplative style and ability to seamlessly weave architecture into a natural environment.
Reed Hilderbrand Associates was selected to work with Ando on the Clark’s expansion because of their deep understanding of New England’s natural environments and cultural life. The firm’s experience in the Berkshires has consistently emphasized the area’s rural character, including the types of ponds, trails, meadows, and scenic vistas found on the grounds of the Clark.
The Williamstown Art Conservation Center
The Williamstown Art Conservation Center (WACC), a nonprofit organization located on the campus of the Clark, treats objects ranging from historic artifacts, antiques, and heirlooms to some of the most important paintings, watercolors, drawings, photographs, sculpture, and furniture in the country. Founded in 1977 to address the conservation and preservation needs of a small consortium of collecting institutions in the Northeast, the center now serves more than 55 member museums and historical societies, as well as many individuals and corporations.
The Berkshires, a region of rolling hills in western Massachusetts, has been a haven for cultural activity since the first half of the nineteenth century. The Berkshires are home to a wealth of cultural institutions that in addition to the Clark include: Tanglewood, Jacob’s Pillow Dance Festival, MASS MoCA, the Norman Rockwell Museum, Williams College Museum of Art, and the Williamstown Theatre Festival, among many others. For more information, visit www.clarkart.edu or call 413-458-2303.