Meet warm-blooded fliers in "Bats: Creatures of the Night," the latest exhibition at the Berkshire Museum in downtown Pittsfield, which opens on Saturday with family festivities.
Bats have long captured the imagination of writers, artists and filmmakers, and people often view them with wary suspicion. Yet these much-maligned creatures are helpful and voracious insect eaters, important plant pollinators and superb navigators -- all facts that the exhibition presents in striking photography, video and life-size models that celebrate the extensive variety, skill and fragility of these marvelous maneuvering mammals.
Learn about the habitats and lifestyles of species from around the world, including the Honduran White Bat, Gambian Epauleted Fruit Bat and Mexican Free-tailed Bat, as well as the varieties that make the Berkshires their home. The exhibit also discusses issues such as white nose syndrome, an alarming threat to North American bats that has drawn much attention and concern in recent years.
Opening day on Saturday will bring a program of activities. From 1 to 3 p.m., families can experiment with echolocation, the bat's superlative means of navigating around obstacles in the dark of night, with oversize ears to mimic the bat's supersensitive hearing.
Create a pair of batwings and take part in an extinction scavenger hunt around the museum. At 4 p.m., learn all kinds of facts about bats at a special illustrated talk. These activities are included in regular museum admission of $13 for adults and $6 for children. Kids 3 and under get in free.
From 5 to 7 p.m., celebrate the exhibition at a free preview reception with complimentary refreshments and free gallery admission for everyone. Information: www.berkshiremuseum.org (413) 443-7171.
The monthly International Family Film Series at Images Cinema -- the enduring single screen independent movie house in Williamstown -- has introduced young audiences to the latest films for children from around the world, including award-winning shorts programs and innovative feature-length animations. On Saturday at 10:30 a.m. and again at 1 p.m., the series looks back to the past with a rare screening of "Little Fugitive," a landmark title from 1953 that was nominated for two Academy Awards and sparked the French New Wave by influencing important filmmakers such as François Truffaut with its groundbreaking cinéma vérité approach.
The black and white film relates the tale of Joey, a 7-year-old boy from Brooklyn who, mistakenly believing he has harmed his brother, runs away to Coney Island. Concealed cameras follow Joey he juggles his excitement at the amusement park -- he funds his escapade by collecting and returning soda bottles -- with his concern for his past actions and present vulnerability.
Audiences young and old will experience the singular atmosphere of Coney Island in its heyday, a cultural icon and beloved destination for generations of urbanites anxious to escape the confines and cares of the city.
Tickets are $5 per person, and family-friendly concessions such as locally baked goods and organic popcorn with real butter are available. Information: www.imagescinema.org.
Modern day museums are rapidly leaning toward the active, interactive and energetic -- witness Williamstown's Williams College Museum of Art. This evening from 5 to 9 p.m., this month's "WCMA at Night" -- the latest innovation at this forward-looking teaching museum -- will fill the galleries and corridors with sound, movement and edible treats on the theme of "Working Together."
Internationally acclaimed Los Angeles-based conceptual artist and choreographer Hana van der Kolk will perform with Williams students as the finale to their month-long Winter Study course at Williams College, and local performance artists Asher Woodworth and Karl Mullen will perform throughout the evening in museum galleries.
Order and chaos collide in a temporary collective with dance, improvisation and the physical and sonic vocabulary of political activism, social change, virtual communication and the pace of modern life. Museum, performances and reception are free. Information: wcma.williams.edu, (413) 597-2429.