MASS MoCA - 5-23-14
Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art - North
On a recent extended weekend, we traveled to the
northwest corner of the state to visit one of our favorite
locations, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary
Art. It is a uniqe venue providing one of the best ongoing
presentations of contemporary art anywhere ! One of
the things that makes the museum particularly special
are the facilities that house the art presentations. The
museum complex is a former manufacturing plant for
electronic components that has been preserved in much
of its original state.
The site was an active manufacturing area since the
colonial period due to its strategic location on the
Hoosic River. Manufacturing increased in 1860 and by
1899 25 of the 26 complex buildings had been
constructed. Most recently the site housed the Sprague
Electric Company [1942-1985], a manufacturer of
electronic components. A more detailed history can be
found on their website.
The museum acquired the complex in 1986. Its long
history is palpable and ever present. As you tour the
museum, the juxtaposition of contemporary art against
this backdrop of the past is never lost on the visitors !
Rich textures reveal layers of the past, and the echos of
its former workers can almost be heard as you make your
way through the narrow corridors and vintage basement
to the same employee showers and restrooms. The
outside of the complex is used for exhibits as well,
making creative use of the environmental landscape and
building complex for a fully interactive experience.
One of my favorite subjects this visit was the 'Boiler
Room' which in its day helped supply heat to the factory
buildings and is now a fascinating maze of rusting metal
machinery and grated catwalks.
We usually try to make this beautiful, approximately 2
1/2 hour trip crossing the Berkshires, twice a year to
catch the changing exhibits and stay current with the
museum's many activities.
It is hard for me to remember as I review the photos in
this set, that I am looking at infrastructure and not
something designed as 'art'. I can't help but see it