When choosing the perfect vacation spot, we often look to small towns instead of big cities, and New England often wins out over the rest of the country. The northern Berkshires is one of our favorite New England destinations. Why? It’s got more than its fair share of world-class art experiences and that quintessential New England charm that our family can’t get enough of. Care to explore the creative side of the northern Berkshires with us? These are our favorite kid-friendly art museums in the Berkshires of Massachusetts.
MASS MoCA, North Adams
The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art is one of the largest modern art centers in the whole United States. The fact that it is tucked away in the Berkshire Hills and not living it up in some trendy city means that you can explore it with relative ease, whether you’re visiting with toddlers or teens.
While the exhibitions at MASS MoCA are thoroughly contemporary, they’re housed in an ancient, converted factory complex. The juxtaposition of old and new is so startling and beautiful! MASS MoCA is also huge – boasting more than 110,000 square feet of gallery space. Give yourself plenty of time to wander throughout the sprawling chambers and hidden nooks. There’s even a old hallway that sings to you as you walk through it.
Kids and teens will enjoy many of the exhibits, but the Kidspace gallery was created with children in mind. Part exhibition space, part hands-on studio, you won’t have to worry about convincing your kids to keep their hand to themselves at Kidspace. The beautiful, colorful exhibits change frequently, but they’re always mesmerizing. In fact, the last time I visited MASS MoCA, I went without my kids, and the Kidspace exhibit was still my favorite! Kids will love checking out the ArtBar, which is open during weekend and school breaks. They can order up supplies and make their own masterpiece to bring home.
The details: MASS MoCA is located in the heart of North Adams, Massachusetts. The cost for admission is $18 for adults, $8 for kids 6-16, and $12 for students with a school ID. Kids under five are always free. For $32 you can buy a combo ticket that will get you into MASS MoCA and The Clark Art Institute. During the fall, winter, and spring, MASS MoCA is open from 11 to 5 pm every day except Tuesdays. In the summer, the hours are 10 to 6 pm, Sunday – Wednesday, and 10 to 7 pm, Thursday – Saturday.
The Clark Art Institute, Williamstown
The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute is located in Williamstown, a bustling college town that attracts visitors from all over the world. The Clark is just a short drive from MASS MoCA, but the difference in artistic styles is striking. The art on display at The Clark is seriously impressive, and again, surprising to find in a New England town of less than 10,000 people. Permanent collections include French Impressionist works by Degas, Manet, Monet, and Renoir, rubbing shoulders with American works by John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, and Frederic Remington. Temporary exhibitions have included a visit from Whistler’s Mother, works by Van Gogh, and the Magna Carta.
Unlike the eclectic layout and exhibits of MASS MoCA, the collections at The Clark are displayed in a more traditional style. It feels like an art museum, and while children are certainly welcome and appreciated, you may want to follow these tips for enjoying an art museum with your youngsters. Our saving grace for visiting The Clark with small children — the grounds are sprawling, and incredibly beautiful! We almost always bring a picnic to enjoy next to the reflection pond, and afterwards we encourage the kids to burn some energy on the nature trails that wind through the woods and fields behind the museum.
The details: The Clark is located at 225 South Street in Williamstown, Massachusetts. Admission is $20 for adults, but free for children under 18, students with ID, and members. If you plan to visit both The Clark and MASS MoCA during your visit, be sure to buy a combo pass for $32, which will save you $4 on each ticket.
Williams College Museum of Art, Williamstown
Also located in Williamstown, The Williams College Museum of Art is just one more surprise in this very creative corner of New England. With more than 14,000 works focusing on contemporary art, photography, prints, and Indian painting, Williams College Museum of Art rounds out this inspiring trifecta of art museums that is such a draw for the northern Berkshires. Families will appreciate the informal atmosphere at WCMA, where kids can begin their visit by climbing around on the giant eyeballs – Eyes (Nine Elements) by Louise Bourgeois – in front of the museum.
WCMA is dedicated to art education, not just for college students, but for adults, pre K-12 educators, and visiting families. Special programs are offered on a regular basis, and the best part? The WCMA is always free!
The details: Williams College Museum of Art is located right off of route 2 in downtown Williamstown, Massachusetts. It is open from 10 to 5 pm every day, and 10 to 8 pm on Thursdays. During the winter months (from September to May), the museum is closed on Wednesdays. Admission is always free.
These three family-friendly art museums are all within a ten-mile radius, making it easy to embark on a creative and inspiring vacation without a lot of hassle. Whether you’re planning a weekend getaway or embarking on a family road trip, be sure to check out this little corner of Massachusetts for world-famous art in a gorgeous setting.
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored post and there are no affiliate links. I LOVE the Berkshires and these fabulous museums, and so do my kids!