The Ever-Expanding MassMoCA

New MassMoCA expansion doubles its size, increasing the opportunities for more exhibits and for creating long-term relationships with artists.

At 200,000 square feet, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (aka MassMoCA) has always been large. But now, thanks to the renovation of Building 6 on the campus, MassMoCA has effectively doubled its space—and its opportunities—for ground-breaking exhibits and relationships with artists. The additional 130,000 square foot expansion opens to the public May 28 with a variety of events, many of them free to North Adams residents.

MassMoCA’s expansion means more than “simply” additional gallery space or even extending relationships with artists such as Jenny Holzer. The improvements to performance space and amenities—updated green rooms and catering services for performing artists, as well as additional bathrooms for concert-goers—mean that MassMoCA now can offer top-of-the-line experiences for all. “We’ve upped our game with the ability to host performing artists,” says MassMoCA Director Joe Thompson. “It’s been a little rough around the edges up until now.”

MassMoCA, Laurie Anderson, photo by Leland Brewster

Laurie Anderson, photo by Leland Brewster

The expansion also adds more workshops so that various artists can work on site in addition to showing their finished work. The museum has created, as part of this renovation, multi-year relationships with artists such as Laurie Anderson and James Turrell. Visitors can see works in progress in artists’ workshops, and the artists will perform or show works as often as once a year as part of this new arrangement.

MassMoCA, James Turrell, Breathing Light, 2013, LED Light into space, Dimensions variable, Photo by Floriann Holzerr

James Turrell, Breathing Light, 2013, LED light into space, dimensions variable, photo by Floriann Holzerr

Look for exhibition space that is more hands-on. A gallery devoted to Gunnar Schonbeck, for instance, will invite viewers to make their own music. A firm believer that every object has its own inherent musicality and that each human is a musician at heart, the exhibit will feature many of the instruments he and Bennington College students created—all of them open for touching and playing. A gallery near Laurie Anderson’s workshop, meanwhile, will take viewers on a virtual reality tour as they walk into a space onto which she has painted every available surface with words and images.

MassMoCA, August Solid Sound by Rick Levinson

August Solid Sound by Rick Levinson

The renovation has a practical side: it makes it easier to circulate between exhibits because it joins together buildings that were previously separated. “If all else goes to hell in a handbasket,” Thompson jokes of the new four-mile circumference—an intern actually clocked it with a pedometer—”we can open a health club.”

But the expansion goes beyond the MassMoCA campus itself, a critical part of the mission, according to Thompson. Expanding MassMoCA is just another step toward helping the entire Berkshire region. Located at the base of Mount Greylock, MassMoCA is a linchpin in a series of bike paths and hiking trails in the area. That’s one reason why—wait for it—a bike path will go through the middle of MassMoCA to more easily connect the other bike paths once they are finished. “It will be a microcosm of the best of New England,” Thompson says of the final development. “It could be one of the really wonderful attractions to this area.”

Joe Thompson–Director
1040 MassMoCA Way
North Adams, Massachusetts

Top image by Douglas Mason

Janet ReynoldsThe Ever-Expanding MassMoCA

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