Having grown up in Western Massachusetts, it’s tough for me think of it as a destination (you know, a place where people choose to spend their time off, not to just visit their parents). This has all recently changed thanks to a week spent in the Berkshires. If you’ve spent any time driving through Massachusetts’ back roads (and by “back roads” I mean “highways” like Routes 2 or 9) you’ve seen the massive brick buildings that used to house the mill/factory/headquarters of many long-defunct manufacturing companies. These huge, gorgeous, industrial structures stand empty in small towns throughout the state, only now with a Price Chopper or Wal-Mart installed nearby.
I mention this because I had the chance to visit the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCA) last week for the first time and was simply blown away by what’s possible on 13 acres with 26 interlocking historical buildings. To put it in their words, “Bridges, viaducts, elevated walkways and red brick facades lend a distinct architectural ambiance to the complex.” And that’s to say nothing of the art, which included an extensive retrospective of Sol LeWitt, whose scale is perfectly matched by MoCA’s massive rooms. Meanwhile, a startling exhibit of six artists’ work called These Days: Elegies for Modern Times is fairly disturbing and incredibly intriguing (Robert Taplin’s take on Dante’s Inferno in wax dioramas is, while deeply creepy, somehow very timely).
The museum also hosts concerts, movies and other community events throughout the summer.