New Museums, Revived Mohawk Theater at Centerpiece of Planned Cultural Revival for North Adams

Mohawk Theatre, North Adams, Mass.

Mohawk Theatre, North Adams, Mass.

(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – The redevelopment of the Heritage Park complex, the centerpiece of which will be a museum of extreme model railroading and contemporary architecture; a previously announced new museum of contemporary art at the Harriman & West Airport, the brainchild of MASS MoCA visionary Thomas Krens; and the renovation and revitalization of the Mohawk Theater on Main Street are three points on a triangle of efforts to integrate the city of North Adams into the “Cultural Corridor” that exists between MASS MoCA and the handful of world-class art and theater venues in neighboring Williamstown.

Former Massachusetts Governors Michael Dukakis and William Weld, who were instrumental in providing early support to MASS MoCA, are part of the development team, led by Thomas Krens, the Director Emeritus of the Solomon Guggenheim Foundation in New York City and the creator of MASS MoCA and first Chairman of the MASS MoCA Commission. Richard Gluckman, the principal in GluckmanTang Architects based in New York City, is also part of the team.

Newly re-elected Mayor Richard J. Alcombright will hold a press conference on Saturday, December 5th at 10am at the Western Gateway Heritage State Park in Building 4 to present the program and detailed plans for the continued development of North Adams as a cultural destination. The plan will be presented by Krens, Governors Weld and Dukakis, and Gluckman on Saturday morning at 10am.

The plan’s concept parallels the City’s 2030 Master Plan and the Economic Development Strategic Plan presented by the North Adams Partnership in 2014. The three new components are designed to complement the existing cultural facilities in Williamstown and North Adams – specifically MASS MoCA, the Clark Art Institute, the Williamstown Theater Festival, and the Williams College Museum of Art.

Building on the presence of these institutions, and the sterling reputation of Williams College plus the Massachusetts College of the Liberal Arts (MCLA), the new plan envisions a North Adams-Williamstown “Cultural Corridor,” a series of internationally prominent cultural destinations that will enhance the region’s reputation as a widely recognized hub of cultural, educational and economic activity.

Governors Dukakis and Weld each played significant roles in the redevelopment of North Adams in the past. During his first administration in the early 1980s, Governor Dukakis proposed and funded the creation of the statewide Heritage Park concept; and then in the late 1980s, his administration supported and provided the initial funding for MASS MoCA.

His successor, Governor Weld, worked with the state legislature and the private sector to create the blue print and economic model that led to full public and private funding for MASS MoCA.

A recent $25 million state grant for Phase III of MASS MoCA’s multi-decade adaptive re-use of the 16 acre 28-building historic site, announced in June 2014 by former Governor Deval Patrick and MASS MoCA Director Joseph Thompson, expanded on the early state-funded investments enabled by Governors Dukakis and Weld.

Krens’s museum has a proposed building budget of $10 million to $15 million. The Global Contemporary Collection and Museum would potentially house 400 works of art, and will be 160,000 square feet, 40,000 of which will be storage for the collection. Unlike MASS MoCA, which Krens conceived with the idea that it would show work too large to normally be exhibited in a museum, the Global Contemporary Collection and Museum would only show its contemporary-art collection — there would be no exhibition programming.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.