Present and Future

The 1990s began with the expansion of the Clark's national and international profile through its hosting of important exhibitions, including Winslow Homer in the 1890s and The Art of Sir Lawrence Alma-Tadema. Michael Conforti joined the Clark as director in 1994.

In 1996 an addition to the newer building was completed, which enabled the Clark to organize several major special exhibitions such as A Passion for Renoir: Sterling and Francine Clark Collect (1996), Uncanny Spectacle: The Early Career of the Young John Singer Sargent (1997), and Jean-François Millet: Drawn into the Light (1999). The annual attendance nearly doubled during this time, and the Clark earned a reputation for relating challenging new ideas in art history scholarship to the public in visually appealing ways.

The Clark launched a number of new programs in the mid-1990s, including the Clark Fellows program, which enables leading academic scholars, museum professionals, and independent researchers from around the world to pursue research in art, art history, and visual culture at the Clark. The Institute also began to host symposia and conferences designed to contribute to a broader public understanding of the role of art in culture and introduced several new family-oriented programs. Moreover, partnerships with MASS MoCA (the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) have provided educational opportunities to children through the innovative Kidspace, as well as offered curatorial experience in contemporary art for graduate students through Clark-sponsored exhibitions.

In the late 1990s, for the first time in its history, the Clark began to collect in an entirely new area: photography. The Clarks did not personally collect photography, but the Clark has successfully acquired early photographs that relate to the Clark's collection of paintings, prints, and drawings. These photographic acquisitions include Winslow Homer's River Scene, Florida, Gustave Le Gray's Brig on the Water, and Julia Margaret Cameron's The Angel at the Sepulchre.

In January 2001, the Clark announced its master plan to preserve and develop the 140-acre campus. The goal of the master plan is to provide for the continued expansion of the Institute's many programs and to satisfy the needs of its growing visitorship, while at the same time preserving the unique character of the Clark and its surroundings for the century ahead.