Clark Art Institute - Williamstown - Exterior photo of building - Selldorf Architects

The Clark Art Institute

Williamstown, MA

The Clark is an art museum and research center located on a 140 acre campus in the Berkshires. As part of a major expansion project Selldorf Architects, working with Gensler as Executive Architect, was commissioned to design the renovation of two very different but connected structures: the original Museum Building and the Manton Research Center.

The museum, originally built in 1955 by Daniel Perry, houses the Clark’s permanent collection of European and American paintings, sculpture, and decorative arts. The renovation restores and enhances the building’s distinct character while also bringing it into the 21st century. The Clark’s expansion included a reorganization of the campus orientation and a new building serving as the visitor entry. This resulted in a reconfigured circulation for the Museum, entry now being possible on the west end of the building, with the conversion of former back of house space into new gallery space.

By creating a new rhythm for the corridors and galleries the art viewing experience was enhanced with increased focus. Throughout the building original details were simplified and a new state of the art mechanical and lighting systems introduced resulting in an overall calmer and welcoming environment.

The Manton Research Center was designed in the 1970s by Pietro Belluschi and The Architects Collaborative to house the Clark’s art library, special exhibition galleries, administrative and scholar offices, and an auditorium. It was connected via a bridge link to the Museum building and became the central point of entry for the Clark. The current renovation enhances research facilities and welcomes the public by recasting the former Visitor Services Center into a new public Reading Room.

The Reading Room is a central, light-filled gathering space where scholars, museum staff, and the public come together. The design provides lounge seating and a coffee bar, and brings some of the library’s collection into the public realm. The new Study Center for Works on Paper provides students and scholars with access to the Clark’s collection of rare books and prints.

(Photography credits: Michael Agee, Jeff Goldberg / Esto, Stephanie Zollshan, Nicholas Venezia)