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.
One of the largest conservation organizations in New England, Mass Audubon cares for 34,000 acres of natural land in a network of more than 50 wildlife sanctuaries across the state. Its members receive free admission to these pacific preserves, where, alongside more than 150 endangered or threatened native species, they can breathe in Mother Nature’s perfume or have a good cry on her mossy bosom. During bird-migration season, alert gazes can capture some 300 species of sky surfer at Allens Pond on the South Coast, and visitors to Lincoln’s Drumlin Farm can re-enact Charlotte's Web with a motley band of sheep, cows, goats, and pigs.
The MASS MoCA ushers visitors through its doors for the museum's first-ever bluegrass festival, unleashing the toe-tapping rhythms of established musicians as well as rising talent. Saturday's shows commence at 6 p.m. with an acoustic set by Dave Mayfield of The David Mayfield Parade. His performance takes place during the museum's reception for its newest outdoor expansion, The Speed Way, which contains three new works of art, a 1.5-acre asphalt meadow, and Van Gogh's long-lost collection of elbow macaroni. Saturday evening's recitals end with the thigh-slapping pluck of The Infamous Stringdusters at 9:30 p.m. in the Hunter Center. Sunday kicks off the day's festivities at 11 a.m. with Aoife O'Donovan of Crooked Still before attendees retreat to the galleries to hear the ramshackle concoctions of the Ramblin Jug Stompers. Guests migrate back to Courtyard C at 5 p.m. for the festival's final performance by the established tunesmiths of the Yonder Mountain String Band. All festival passes include admission to the museum's galleries, allowing patrons to peruse the exhibits and determine which painting would look best on their home refrigerator.