Downtown Pittsfield Stories: Berkshire Museum
The Berkshire Museum reopened to the public on August 1 as part of Phase 3 in Massachusetts’ Reopening. The Museum is carefully rolling out their own phased reopening, allowing only Museum members to visit the aquarium in the Museum’s phase 1 from August 1-15. During the Museum’s phase 2 (August 17-31), the Museum will be open for all visitors Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday, 10 am to 5 pm (closed from 1 to 2 pm daily for cleaning). Starting August 17, all visitors are invited to enjoy private experiences in the aquarium and a last chance to see the Art of Warner Bros. Cartoons. Timed tickets are required, and you can reserve your tickets online or over the phone at 413-443-7171 ext. 360. Tickets are $5 for adults, and free for Berkshire Museum members, EBT cardholders, and children under 18.
In this video, Jeff Rodgers, Executive Director of the Berkshire Museum, updates us on current in person happenings at the Museum as well as online resources and events. Plus, Jeff highlights exciting changes to come at the Museum! Look below the video for video highlights.
0:10 What is the Berkshire Museum’s mission?
1:10 New online experiences to engage with at home
Born out of the need to connect with the public during the shutdown of the Museum, the Berkshire Museum has created a new website, explore.berkshiremuseum.org, which features brand new digital experiences, videos, resources, online events, and other content that is being updated almost daily, even with the Museum’s reopening.
Programs include the Daily Doodle, Digital Discovery, Educator Resources, Museum on Demand, She Shapes History Narratives, WeeMuse Programs, What’s in the Basement? Podcast, Word of the Day, and more.
Rodgers says that the new website allows the Museum to speak to a variety of audiences including students, educators, early learners, families at home, and adults. Rodgers is especially proud of the virtual exhibitions where “you really feel like you’re walking into the Museum through our galleries to see what these exhibitions could be like”.
2:29 Virtual Art of The Hills exhibition
Art of the Hills is a juried exhibition which features the work of artists who live and work within 60 miles of the Berkshire Museum’s Pittsfield location. The exhibit will open to the public in October, but in the meantime, you can enjoy a self-guided 3D virtual exhibition or join exhibition jurors Amy Myers and Seung Lee for a pre-recorded guided exhibition tour: explore.berkshiremuseum.org/art-of-the-hills-narrative.
3:37 The Museum’s phased reopening
During phase 1 (August 1-15), Berkshire Museum members are invited to enjoy private, 45-minute, self-led explorations of the aquarium. During the Museum’s phase 2 (August 17-31), all visitors are invited to enjoy private experiences in the aquarium and a last chance to see the Art of Warner Bros. Cartoons. Timed tickets are required, and you can reserve your tickets online or over the phone at 413-443-7171 ext. 360. Tickets are limited to one family unit (a group of up to 6 people who have been distancing together).
4:50 Phase 2 of the reopening and The Art of Warners Bros. Cartoons
The Art of Warner Bros. Cartoons will be on view through September 13, 2020. Don’t miss the chance to see this unique exhibit before it’s gone!
“Animation fans off all ages will enjoy this special exhibition featuring production artwork including drawings, paintings, and transparent celluloids (a.k.a. “cels”) used to create some of Warner Studios’ classic cartoon shorts from their 1930 debut through the early 1960s. Explore the history of the legendary Hollywood animation studio, uncover the creative process behind the scenes of each cartoon, trace the development of each iconic animated star, and learn step-by-step the techniques through which these classic toons were made.
Alongside more than 160 art objects used to make Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies shorts you’ll find natural science specimens and historical objects from the Museum’s collection to provide real-world context to your favorite schticks, including rabbits, ducks, and coyotes, plus cast iron frying pans, dynamite, six shooters, and unique helmets.”
6:21 What is the construction in front of the Museum?
“It’s infrastructure work, it’s waterproofing, it’s sewer, and it’s making sure that we can effectively move large objects through the Museum which gives us capacity to do some exciting things down the road”, says Rodgers. Work is underway now waterproofing and insulating around the outside of the building to protect the Museum’s stored collections, and the freight lift is being expanded to the second floor which opens up the door for larger traveling exhibitions.
9:03 An update on Wally the stegosaurus
On April 10, 2020, Wally made his way to Louis Paul Jonas Studios in Germantown, New York for a “Restoration Vacation”. Wally will be restored by his original creators, getting numerous fixes including a new tail and a new paint job.
Wally has resided on the front lawn of the Berkshire Museum since October 1997. He is 26 feet long, 12 feet tall, 7 feet wide, and weighs 1,200 pounds. A little-known fact is that “Wally spent 30 years on the grounds of the Cleveland Museum of Natural History before coming to the Berkshire Museum in 1997 after a reconditioning by the Jonas Studios.”
Wally fans can expect his return in the fall after construction in the front of the Museum is complete.
10:20 New aquaponics exhibit in the aquarium
11:34 What’s next for the Berkshire Museum?
First up is work on the second floor of the Museum expected to begin within the next couple of months. The plan is to create two new classrooms on the second floor, to replace all floors, and to install new lighting and wall structures for hanging art. The permanent exhibition on the second floor will be re-interpreted, and as such, a new modular system will be installed to allow for new objects from the Museum’s vast collection to be brought up and rotated weekly or bi-weekly so a visitor “never walks into the same Museum twice”.
After work on the second floor is complete, attention will be turned to the first floor where the hope is to bring an upgraded aquarium to the first floor and to update current exhibits. Rodgers is also looking into the possibility of creating an immersive theatre (modern planetarium) and multi-purpose space.
Interview and video by Kimberly Gritman, Downtown Pittsfield, Inc.
Images and video footage of the Museum provided by the Berkshire Museum.