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.
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.
Established in 1791, the Albany Institute of History & Art has been chronicling artistic expression longer than the Louvre, the Smithsonian, and the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Visitors acquaint themselves with an eternally revolving set of exhibits, including Hajo: An Artist’s Journey, which documents Hans-Joachim Richard Christoph's work in package design incorporating the bold, stylized graphics of the Berlin school of graphic design. Visitors can sidle up to one of the permanent exhibitions, such as the panoramic landscape art of The Landscape that Defined America: The Hudson River School or the ornamentally preserved remains of Ancient Egypt, an exhibit that spotlights the Nile, the Egyptian concept of afterlife, and ways to reposition a mummy into a hip-hop mummy.
The full-scale Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art houses three galleries and 40,000 square feet of picture-book art, with rotating exhibitions showcasing both national and international galleries. Founded in part by Eric Carle, the famous author and illustrator of over 70 children's books, including the 1969 classic The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Eric Carle Museum aims to inspire an appreciation of the art of the picture book in adults, children, and lovable curmudgeons alike. The museum rouses the eyes with a large selection of exhibitions by a variety of artists, such as the currently running Tomi Ungerer, Chronicler of the Absurd, which takes audiences through the vibrant artwork of Tomi Ungerer's award-winning children's books, including The Mellops Go Flying, The Three Robbers, and Flat Stanley. Selections from private collections and archives enhance the exhibit, giving viewers an ever-deeper look into the absurdities and wonders of Ungerer's fantastic artwork.
Dubbed a 2011 Best Family Fun Destination by Worcester Magazine, EcoTarium’s three floors of exhibits creatively use wildlife, scientific concepts, and the museum’s natural-history collection to help children discover the natural world. A new permanent exhibit, The Arctic Next Door: Mount Washington acquaints explorers with the climate and terrain of New England's highest peak, letting them glimpse the mountain's icy surface during a virtual visit and test mountain-scaling skills on a climbing wall. Another permanent exhibit, Secrets of the Forest whispers deciduous gossip into the ears of explorers, and a minerals exhibit lets tykes appraise gems, ores, and crystals. Many animals, including bald eagles, wood turtles, and otters frolic peaceably within the museum grounds, which also feature 55 acres of nature trails.
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.