For a kid, the overall space and energy of a museum can be just as exciting as the work they might see. And Mass MoCA in nearby North Adams, Massachusetts, may be one of the most exciting and energetic museum spaces around. Thirteen acres of 19th-century factory buildings, it’s an elaborate system of interlocking courtyards, bridges, elevated walkways, and red brick facades which families are encouraged to roam. Steeped in history, it’s also full of surprises: trees growing upside down; displays in seemingly secret spaces; passageways and viaducts; and great expanses of open space filled with sound, architecture, and sometimes enormous art. There’s a dedicated Kidspace that hosts its own exhibitions and offers art supplies and projects so children of all ages can get their hands on the ideas they encounter throughout the museum. And this Saturday, January 30th, Mass MoCA will throw open its doors to the community for free.
“We did a test run, opening the galleries in the dead of winter when there wasn’t much else around to do, and welcomed the community,” says Jodi Joseph, Director of Communications at Mass MoCA. “It was such a hit; we’ve continued it now for more than a decade.”
An innovator of pop-up exhibitions (visual, literary, and musical mini-shows which happen almost at random throughout the building complex in loosely designated spots), Mass MoCA’s Free Day will feature live elevator music in a giant freight elevator, WanderWord poetry roaming the galleries, a photobooth where visitors can interact with artwork, fiddlers, a comedy improv troupe, and a storybooth where former factory employees share their memories of the space that now holds MASS MoCA.
Building a fully immersive museum-going experience, there are also opportunities for visitors to collaborate on community art projects. Guests are invited to create art that will go on display at Boston Children’s Hospital beginning in February, and to participate in a community mural project that will transform the museum’s Tall Gallery with Jim Shaw- and Clifford Ross-inspired art.
With kid-friendly gallery monitors and an enthusiastic staff, Mass MoCA is welcoming to children of all ages. Don’t miss the multiple activities, tours, parties, and special exhibits created especially for families which are scheduled throughout the day.
Free Day 2016 at MASS MoCA, North Adams, MA: Saturday, January 30; 11am-7pm. Free!
Kid-Friendly Schedule of Events:
11:30am Story Time Led by Child Care of the Berkshires in Building 5A
12pm Opening Ceremony/Ribbon-cutting for artist Aaron Johnson and local student collaborative sock-monster mural at Kidspace
1:30pm Museum Tour For Families
3:30pm Kidspace: Walk in My Shoes with Director of Education Laura Thompson
5pm Smile-athon at Kidspace.
Make a weekend of it! There are lots of great lodging options in North Adams and Williamstown, Massachusetts, and in Bennington, Vermont. The Williams Inn allows families with more than two kids to share a double room with free breakfast for everyone! They’ll even give you a cot bed. The Clark Art Gallery in Williamstown (about a fifteen-minute drive from North Adams) has iPad media guides with an interactive Fun for Families portal, a giant, modernist wishing pool, and miles of trails to explore. Try a meal at Public Eat and Drink for grass fed burgers, the biggest bowl of mac and cheese you’ve ever seen, and cocktails for the grown-ups that top off at $9.On your way, hit The Store at Five Corners, 6 New Ashford Road (Routes 7 & 43) in Williamstown, for gourmet eats and innovative café recipes like fresh blueberry and ricotta pizza drizzled with honey. Stretch your legs at the playground out back with wooden features, a rope box ladder, and old school leather baby swing.