You can sit on the terrace in an adirondack chair on a summer night and look out over the reflecting pool to Stone Hill. Cows graze in the pasture. And the split-rail fence forms geometric patterns. Art lives in the fields here … and Renoir rubs elbows with Rodin.

The Clark Art Institute opens its doors to a collection of Impressionists, Winslow Homer and John Singer Sargent, and contemporary artists, on 140 acres of lawns and meadows, lily pond and pastures, and miles of trails.

In 2010, the museum widened its campus, newly redesigned by a Japanese living legend, architect Tadao Ando — and it now holds international shows, taking a close look at artists from Vincent Van Gogh to bronze-age China.

Art also inspires music, theater, film and conversation year round, in partnership with the Williamstown Theatre Festival, Williams College and Images Cinema. You can sip coffee at the cafe and take a walk over Stone Hill … and browse through books and prints and fine crafts at the museum shop.

The museum began with the collection of Sterling Clark (heir to the Singer Sewing Machine fortune) and his wife, Francine. A family tie to Williams College brought them here, and the museum has grown in close connection with Williams College’s influential art history graduate program.

Visiting scholars and students study here and often give talks on the permanent collection and exhibits, and the museum has an extensive art library open to all, as well as a bookstore, café and museum shop, and performances, films and talks year-round.

‘Architect Tadao Ando has created a minimalist Japanese and New England design unique in the country, if not the world.’

Fall 2021 — Competing currents in Japanese art

An image like Saitō Kiyoshi’s Autumn in Nanzen-Ji (1971) is not a classical inkbrush painting, and it’s not a Kandinsky … but Oliver Ruhl thinks it may be kin to both. Saitō’s work has roots in the centuries-old Japanese tradition of wood block printing, in the contemporary style of Sōsaku-hanga. And Ruhl is tracing the way those roots have grown.

This fall he has curated Competing Currents at the Clark Art Institute, November 6 to January 30, tracing two movements in Japanese art in the 20th century, as they put forward visions of how wood block prints could develop as an artform into the future.

Japanese prints probe a contemporary world

Clark Art all year round

Visitors sit in the sun by the reflecting pool designed by Tadao Ando at the Clark Art Institute in Williamstown.
Joseph Mallord William Turner (English, 1775–1851), Saumur from the Île d'Offart, with the Pont Cessart and the Château in the Distance, c. 1830.

In the collection — Medieval to Monet to Modern

In summer and winter, its rotating shows can reveal women artists in Paris,
ancient Chinese bronzes, Ghanaian sculptor El Anatsui’s brilliant contemporary mosaics … and year-round for the Clark is known for Renoir and his fellow Impressionists, Degas’ Little Dancer, American 19th-century painters like Winslow Homer and more.

This winter, the Clark is pairing two English painters who turned the tradition of landscape on its head — Joseph Turner, a London working-class boy, filled active scenes with a vivid abstract energy, and John Constable, married and settled on the coast, painted the shore and farms and fields around him as they really were.

Trails cross the pasture on Stone Hill.
Kate Abbott

Stone Hill and trails

The cows are out to pasture. Inside, Monet’s water lilies may float on the walls — outside they float in a pond with bullfrogs. Around the museum, Stone Hill rises into 140 acres of woods and fields.

Paths around the Lunder Center on Stone Hill connect with several miles of trails on the museum’s campus and through the woods. Locals hike and snowshoe here all year and look out over the valley, or rest in the stone chair, or fly a kite in the open fields.

Williams College's I/O New Music festival hosts a free concert at the Clark Art Institute in January.

Events year-round at the Clark

Blacksmithing, plein air, snowshoeing … art gets hands-on at the Clark. Artists and curators talk about the work in the galleries — and they explore it indoors and outdoors. And on the first Sunday of each month, fall to spring, the museum opens free with family and art activities relating to the shows and the season.

Films here and at Images Cinema look into artists’ lives, and scholars visiting from around the world talk about their own discoveries. The museum hosts live broadcasts of the London National Theater, the Metropolitan Opera and more, and live concerts and performances all year.

BTW Berkshires