Clark Announces Master Plan Expanding Facilities, Enhancing Landscape

For Immediate Release

January 31, 2001

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA, January 19, 2001 – Michael Conforti, Director of the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, today revealed details of a master plan that will guide the Clark as it enlarges its exhibition space, improves amenities for visitors and scholars and preserves the natural beauty of its 140-acre setting in the Berkshire Hills of western Massachusetts.  Under the plan, the Clark will construct gardens, picnic areas, bike trails and a landscaped pond as it builds more gallery space for its permanent collection and temporary exhibitions and improves parking.

Trustees and senior staff of the Clark are currently selecting both an architect and a landscape architect to implement the master plan.  The search committee has already narrowed its field of potential architects from an initial, international group of 85 to a shortlist of 5.  The committee will announce its choices in summer 2001, at which time design development will begin.  The Clark will remain open to the public throughout the construction period, which will start no later than spring 2004.

"Over the past decade, the audience, programs, and collections of the Clark Art Institute have grown as never before," Conforti stated.  "We have carefully assessed the present and future needs of our visitors and, with the dedication and insight of many people, developed plans that allow us to enhance the experience of coming to the Clark while maintaining the rural character of our landscape and the intimate atmosphere of our galleries.  We eagerly look forward to realizing the future we envision."

The master plan has been developed with input from the community by the staff and trustees of the Clark Art Institute and by the New York architecture and urban design firm of Cooper, Robertson & Partners.  The firm has been responsible for successful planning efforts for many college campuses (Yale, Duke, UCLA, Trinity College, the University of Chicago), museums (The Museum of Modern Art, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, The Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation at Monticello), and major urban projects (the expansion and renovation of Lincoln Center, the Visitors Reception and Transportation Center in Charleston, SC).

The plan envisions construction of a new building of a scale compatible with the Clark's original, neoclassical marble building (constructed in 1955), as well as with the surrounding landscape and the fabric of Williamstown.  The new structure will be linked to the original building by landscaped terraces and will include galleries for special exhibitions, making it a focal point for visitors.  The plan also calls for renovations and additions to be made to the original building and to the campus's library and administrative building, which was added in 1973.

Through these initiatives, the Clark will realize approximately 18,000 square feet of new exhibition space, to be used for both the permanent collection and temporary exhibitions.  The expansion will also provide an additional 9,000 square feet for visitor services (including a restaurant, orientation and interpretation space, and other amenities); 13,000 square feet for the Williamstown Art Conservation Center; and some 12,000 square feet for the use of conferences, public education programs, and the Clark's growing graduate program in art history, jointly administered with Williams College.

In total, the master plan calls for the construction of approximately 80,000 square feet of new space on campus, an increase of about 50%.  The Clark is working on a strategy to ensure that much of the new construction will be built underground, to minimize the impact on the landscape.

The many planned improvements to the landscape include construction of a new half-acre pond; some 5 acres of gardens, terraces, and picnic areas; and a bike trail.  Parking will be consolidated in two separate sites, making possible more than 2.5 miles of walking paths that will link various areas of the campus with each other and with existing paths in the Stone Hill woodlands to the south, including areas for cross-country skiing.  Access will be improved to some 45 acres on the upper campus and 5 acres along Hemlock Brook.

The natural beauty of the Clark's setting will be enhanced for visitors, thanks to a redesigned circulation system for pedestrians and vehicles.  Parking will be expanded and relocated to add convenience and reduce visual clutter on the campus, with landscaped drives and parking areas integrated into the natural setting.  The circulation plan will permit elimination of some existing paved surfaces, as well as promote the enjoyment of the gardens and terraces as visitors make their way into the galleries.

The work of Cooper, Robertson & Partners was preceded by a space-planning study conducted for the Clark by Ann Beha Associates, Inc., of Boston, who have undertaken various projects at the Clark since 1995.  Ann Beha Associates is also known for projects including Symphony Hall in Boston, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, the Harvard Faculty Club, and the Portland Art Museum (Oregon).

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts.  The galleries are open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is free through May.  For more information call 413-458-2303 or visit

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