Mass MoCA in North Adams (Caroline Bonnivier Snyder / Berkshire Eagle Staff)
Mass MoCA in North Adams (Caroline Bonnivier Snyder / Berkshire Eagle Staff)

MASS MoCA

1040 Mass MoCA Way, North Adams.

(413) 662-2111; massmoca.org

A contemporary art museum that occupies an expansive 19th century mill space in North Adams, Mass MoCA offers art, theater, dance, educational and music programming throughout the year.

Hours: July and August, daily, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Summer hours for children's area, KidSpace, are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Admission: $15, adults; $10, students; $5, children 6 to 16 years old; free for children 5 and under; free to museum members.

Amenities

• Shopping/Dining -- Visitors can stop by the Mass MoCA store for museum-related gifts. Lickity Split is in the museum's front lobby, and offers breakfast and lunch as well as coffee, ice cream and light meals for dinner on performance nights. Gramercy Bistro is open on Mass MoCA's campus. Open for lunch and dinner on most days, as well as Sunday brunch. To make a reservation, call (413) 663-5300.

Low-cost or free admission highlights

• Bang on a Can recitals

• KidSpace

• Outdoor exhibits

• Summer outdoor Beer Garden on most Thursdays

• Mass Transit -- a bike rental program

DID YOU KNOW?

1. The interior of the museum is well-lit -- there are more than 4,000 windows in the buildings on Mass MoCA's campus.

2. The famous upside-down trees currently on view at the museum entrance are second-generation. The first grove of trees planted in 1999 outgrew their containers and have since been planted (upright this time) at The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown.

3. The Tigerskin Rug displayed as part of the current "Xu Bing: Phoenix" exhibition is made out of so many cigarettes that it would take someone who smokes one pack on a daily basis over 68 years to smoke the whole rug.

Jodi Joseph, director of communications at Mass MoCA, said the museum has made a point of offering inexpensive and free programming to its visitors.

One of the most noticeable is situated right on the museum's grounds. "Totally Totem" is an outdoor exhibition featuring work by New York-based conceptual artist Marko Remec. Designed to put a modern spin on the traditional Native American totem poles found in the Pacific Northwest, Remec's totems are made out of brooms, mops, mirrors and household items.

It's one of many outdoor installations that the museum has featured since it opened in 1999. "These exhibits give visitors a taste for what the museum has to offer -- outdoors, free of charge, Joseph said.

For music lovers, the Bang on a Can festival's gallery recitals that take place throughout the museum are free with museum admission.

"It's great. You get a free concert of music that could have been composed two or 20 minutes ago," Joseph said. "It's extremely fresh, unexpected and fun."

From free children's activities at the museum to the low-cost, museum-sponsored screening of "Airplane!" at the Harriman-West Airport in North Adams, Joseph said there is something for everyone this summer.

"This is an institute that the community can take ownership of," Joseph said.

Pittsfield resident Shana Lamke Griffin, a mother of four, took her children to Mass MoCA's KidSpace for the first time during the April school vacation. Ranging in age from 5 to 9 years old, her children immediately fell in love with the museum's kid-friendly activities.

"They absolutely loved it," Griffin said. "There was an area where they could create 3-D pieces of art using materials located in this box, there were Lego blocks that they could use to build a sculpture -- there was so much for them to do.

"We tend to do a lot of museums, and I'm always looking for inexpensive things to do with my kids. With four, it adds up really quickly, so it's great that KidSpace is there," Griffin said.

After spending time in KidSpace, Griffin said she and her children got to visit the rest of the museum, giving her kids an introduction to contemporary art.

"The staff was very helpful, they explained the art to them. It was great," Griffin said.