North Adams Museum of History and Science
Location: Western Gateway Heritage State Park, Building 5A (also home of the North Adams Historical Society), State Street, North Adams. Admission is by donation.
Hours: Thursday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. (May through October, call to verify or schedule large group tours)
Info: northadamshistory.org, (413) 664-4700.
What's new: The North Adams Historical Society Inc. celebrates its 25th anniversary this year. The museum space, a former coal storage facility, spans three stories and features more than 25 permanent displays, from a room full of working model trains and a former Grand Central Station time table to a "blacklight room" with a space-themed exhibit.
"When we came to this site in January 2001, the building was empty," said Chuck Cahoon, train enthusiast and president of the North Adams Historical Society. "Five months later we opened with pretty much everything you see. There is so much history here."
Crane Museum of Papermaking
Location: Housatonic Street in Dalton, in the Old Stone Mill. After turning right on Housatonic Street from Route 8, take the first right into the Crane mill driveway and follow it to the end.
Hours: Monday through Friday, 1 to 5 p.m. (early June through mid-October). Call to schedule large group tour and/or to verify daily activities such as plein air paper-making demos. Admission is free.
Info: http://bit.ly/10fjXWQ, (413) 684-7780.
What's new: For 2013, the museum is showcasing two printing presses that people can try their hand at; will have plein air papermaking workshops this summer (Tuesdays through Thursdays, weather permitting); and will open a new exhibit room on currency and banknotes on Oct. 8, in honor of the release of the new $100 bill design.
Here, docents Mary Ward, former Crane worker Charlie Wellspeak, and Crane & Co. spokesman Peter Hopkins will share their expertise on the history of papermaking at Crane & Co., and the use of paper from currency to cards and yes, even canoes.
The building itself dates back to 1844, and once inside, make it a point to look up -- you'll find the ceiling beams actually replicate a ship's hull.
"The neat thing about everything here is that it could be done by hand," Hopkins said.
Animagic Museum of Animation, Special Effects and Art
Location: 135 Main St., Lee.
Hours: Open every day by appointment. Call (413) 841-6679 or email email@example.com. Admission is free and includes a 20-minute tour. Animation workshops are $20 per person and include all the materials and instruction to make your own short movie.
What's new: The toys, animation, art and special effects found here are ever-changing.
Last year celebrated the 25th anniversary of the sci-fi/horror/action film, "Predator," which Eugene Mamut won a science and engineering Academy Award for working on. Mamut co-owns the small three-room museum with his wife, animator and artist Irina Borisova. The moved to Lee via Ukraine.
Here, you'll find a family tree of local film-makers and special effects artists; see exhibits on and learn the scientific techniques behind films like "The Matrix," "2001: A Space Odyssey" and stop-motion animation movies like "Chicken Run."
The best part is having the chance to make your own claymation flick, which Mamut will edit and share via YouTube, and also give you a copy of your work.
"You must see people's eyes when they see for the first time their creation come to life. We like when people have fun," Mamut said.
Sheffield Historical Society
Dan Raymond House Museum, Mark Dewey Research Center and Old Stone Store
Location: 137-161 Main St., Sheffield.
Hours: The Old Stone Store and exhibits there are open Saturdays and Sundays, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (late-May through October). Special events are held at various times throughout the season. Call or visit website for details. Admission to exhibits is free.
Info: sheffieldhistory.org, (413) 229-2694 or (413) 229-3682.
What's new: Sheffield Historical Society is now celebrating its 40th anniversary. They've started their new season with a cheeky exhibit titled, "Unmentionables: Underwear, Outhouses and Ooh-La-La!" which is on view through July 7. It includes "a brief peek at what was private" and provides answers to why anyone would want to wear a bustle, what the inside of an outhouse looks like, and what men wore under their kilts.
Upcoming exhibits include: "The Ashley Family Papers" (July 13-Aug. 25) and "Toys" (Sept. 7-Oct. 14). Other associated special events happening later this year include SpiritFest and Berkshire Haunts.
"People may not think of us, but there's a lot we have here," said Sheffield Historical Society Administrator Barbara Dowling.