A renowned exhibitor of contemporary art, The Arts Center cultivates creative potential in adults and children through art classes and events that emphasize hands-on learning. Members receive discounts on arts classes—up to $25 off kids classes—an opportunity to exhibit their art at the annual members’ Fence Show, discounts at local businesses, and the right to sing in the gallery when nobody’s around. Patrons with a taste for food can enroll in courses on the culinary arts, and aspiring artists can transform stuttering line work into fluid brushstrokes via drawing and painting courses.
Arriving in Paris after leading a scientific expedition through northern China, Sterling Clark was just another Boxer Rebellion veteran and Yale-educated engineer looking for something to do with the inheritance of his magnate grandfather, Robert Clark, who was an heir to the Singer sewing-machine fortune. Like the countless men who found themselves in the same position, Sterling did the only thing left to do at that point of his adventurous life: invest in art.
Sterling and his wife Francine both displayed a discriminating eye for art in their first year of collecting, almost immediately acquiring a piece by the sought-after painter Hyacinthe Rigaud, who was famous for his portraiture of 17th-century European nobility and drawing the most realistic-looking stick people. The Clarks' tastes evolved over time, and their collection ballooned to include more than 30 paintings by Renoir and dozens of works by other impressionist artists.
In 1955, a year before Sterling passed away, he and Francine founded their art institute, where the museum's curators presently stay true to the couple's artistic interests. French impressionism still forms the crux of the collection, but the museum's scope is ever expanding and nowadays includes works of early photographers and American painters and a rotating schedule of well-curated special exhibitions.
For more than a century, the Berkshire Museum has blended history, science, and art into a cohesive whole, drawing inspiration from both the Smithsonian and the American Museum for Natural Science. The museum is packed with wonders ranging from Wally—the fiberglass stegosaurus who guards the museum’s entry—to the John James Audubon display, an impassioned tribute to the very ornithology that prompted Audubon to pen The Birds of America. Other, more playful displays unveil additional wonders, including Alexander Calder's collection of wooden push and pull toys. And inside the vast, salty aquarium, a teeming collection of clownfish, blind cave tetra, and puffer fish swim merrily side-by-side, thankful that they've yet to be cast as members of some trite, underwater calypso band.
When first-time potters step into The Celadon Studio, it may feel a bit like they're entering Wonderland, where none of the objects seem to make sense. Shortly thereafter, however, one of the 10 resident artists shows them the ropes. With the artist's help, novices are soon using the five Pacifica GT potter’s wheels, slab roller, electric kiln, plaster bats, and 15 studio glazes to fashion unique creations out of stoneware and domestic porcelain.