Massachusetts’ smallest city is going through a revival. A milltown for generations at the foot of the state’s highest peak has grown gradually into the home of the country’s largest contemporary art museum.

Mass MoCA opened in the old Sprague Electric mill complex 20 years ago, and the museum has kept on expanding in art and performance, until it brings tens of thousands of people to Wilco’s Solid Sound festival every other year in June, and the FreshGrass folk festival in September and contemporary music with Bang on a Can in July.

Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts holds its own concerts and art exhibits throughout the downtown and partnerships with creative nonprofits up and down the county. And the community is joining in.

Entrepreneurs and artists are re-inventing the mills. The Norad Mill has become a marketplace of local shops and studios. The Eclipse Mill houses sunlit artists lofts, with a gallery and bookstore, and along Route 2 GreylockWorks holds artisan markets and community dance parties.

Outside of downtown, the mountains draw people in. Wilco Bassist John Stiratt has turned a falling-down motel into a 21st-century roadhouse,Tourists Welcome, turning it to open on the Hoosic River and a network of trails, and local groups are working to restore the river banks.

Hikers climb the Appalachian Trail and up Mount Greylock to WPA lodge and the lighthouse at the summit. And train enthusiasts come to admire the Hoosac Tunnel and ride the historic railway, and look north to Adams and the Ashuwillticook Rail Trail.

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Mass MoCA

A 150-year-old mill at the fork of the Hoosic River is now the largest contemporary art museum in the country, and one of the largest on the planet. New exhibits open each season, bringing artists from across the U.S. and the world — China, Kashmir, Israel, Nunavut — and long-term installations span many years, from Sol LeWitt’s rainbow swirl of murals to Laurie Anderson’s sound studio.

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