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Here is a timeline of events that led to the creation of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art and highlights of its operation to date:

Mid-1940s: Sprague Electric Co. buys a former print works on Marshall Street and moves its operations there.

1966: Sprague has become North Adams' largest employer, with 4,137 jobs.

1981: Sprague Electric is sold to the Penn Central Corp., and four years later is renamed the American Annuity Group. In 1985, after 43 years of operation in the city, Sprague closes the Marshall Street plant.

November 1985: Williams College Museum of Art Director Thomas Krens conceives the idea for what will become Mass MoCA while visiting Germany.

February 1986: Krens meets with North Adams Mayor John Barrett III and proposes turning a vacant industrial building in the city into a showcase for collections of contemporary and minimalist art. Krens and Barrett look at the former Sprague site.

May 5, 1987: North Adams and Williams College announce they will seek $35 million from the state's Civic and Convention Center program to renovate the 28-building Sprague complex into a 435,000-square-foot contemporary art museum, with a hotel, restaurant, art book warehouse and stores. The $35 million sought is half the projected cost of $72 million.

Nov. 5, 1987: North Adams City Council backs plans for Mass MoCA; 11,000-signature local petition sent to Statehouse.

Jan. 5, 1988: Convention Center funding bill dies in the Legislature.

Jan. 12, 1988: Gov. Michael S. Dukakis submits Mass MoCA as separate state funding proposal.

Jan. 14, 1988: Krens is named director of the Guggenheim Foundation.

March 14, 1988: The Legislature issues its approval of a $35 million bond issue for the museum. Dukakis signs the bill eight days later. Projected opening of the museum is 1991.

May 25, 1988: Mass MoCA Cultural Commission appointed by Barrett and North Adams City Council. Krens is named chairman of the commission.

June 26, 1988: Convention center portion of plan dropped.

Aug. 2, 1988: The Mass MoCA Cultural Commission approves the use of $1.7 million in state money for a feasibility study. Joseph Thompson, Krens' colleague at the Williams College Museum of Art, is named founding director of Mass MoCA.

Oct. 18, 1988: Mass MoCA design team is named: Skidmore Owens & Merrill, Frank O. Gehry Associates and Venturi Scott Rauch. Sum of $725,000 allocated out of $1.7 million feasibility budget for design services.

Feb. 11, 1989: Mass MoCA warehouse ball a sellout; 800 tickets sold at $50 each, with 500 turned away.

April 26, 1989: Mass MoCA planners reported to be rethinking strategy — using state money to build museum first, then attract developers.

Oct. 3, 1989: Preliminary feasibility study scales down museum and commercial space by half; cuts retail space from 15 to eight spots; hotel concept changed to condominiums.

June 1990: Mass MoCA planning reported behind schedule. State Inspector General Joseph R. Barreal says North Adams will have to put up $10.7 million share of financing and cover deficit if attendance falls below projections. Museum now expected to open in summer 1993.

Dec. 9, 1990: Krens resigns from Mass MoCA Cultural Commission. Modified feasibility study scales back plans to a first phase of five buildings: 220,000 square feet and $46 million budget. Commercial development, hotel/condos, art book warehouse and high-tech museum concepts dropped.

Dec. 17, 1990: State Division of Capital Planning and Operations withholds approval of Mass MoCA feasibility study because of uncertainty that project can attract 30 percent private funding.

Dec. 28, 1990: Dukakis signs amendment to feasibility study agreement, allocating $680,000 for Mass MoCA planning after he leaves office. State funding conditional on successful fundraising and securing of a museum operator, art collection.

Jan. 14, 1991: Mass MoCA 500 Fund Committee organizes to raise $500,000 in Berkshires over six months as part of three-year campaign to raise $3 million regionally and $9.1 million nationally to finance endowment and capital construction.

Jan. 31, 1991: Amid $1 billion state deficit, Gov. William Weld freezes Mass MoCA funds. State refuses to release $688,000. Barrett threatens to sue.

June 10, 1991: Mass MoCA fund drive tops $1 million.

July 31, 1991: Weld says he wants more private, less public funding for Mass MoCA before release of $688,000 in planning funds.

Oct. 17, 1991: Weld, Barrett sign agreement releasing $688,000 in planning funds.

March 6, 1992: Mass MoCA planners announce search for museum operator.

May 1, 1992: Three museums — Guggenheim, Boston Institute of Contemporary Art and Art Gallery Toronto — express interest in Mass MoCA operation.

Dec. 12, 1992: Barrett reports nearly 50 percent of $12 million raised, but there is no museum management agreement yet.

Dec. 31, 1992: Gov. Weld grants Mass MoCA a seven-month extension. Planners say they have firm commitments of $4.1 million. Barrett advocates phased approach of one building a year over five years.

May 17, 1993: Barrett says fund drive still at $4.5 million mark. Says he will not seek further extension. Appears the project will die.

Dec. 2, 1993: Mass MoCA plan springs back to life. Thompson and Sam Miller, director of Jacob's Pillow, announce several cultural venues will collaborate with Mass MoCA. Thompson re-envisions the museum to include the performing arts and sections of space for commercial use.

Dec. 31, 1993: Weld officially supports Phase 1 of Mass MoCA.

May 1994: Weld releases first funds for Mass MoCA construction.

Sept. 8, 1994: Mass MoCA signs lease agreement with first tenant, computer animation company Kleiser-Walczak Construction Co.

April 24, 1995: State approves Mass MoCA bill. Bruner/Cott & Associates submit final plans for the museum complex. The project is certified and approved by the state, and $18 million is released to the project.

1996: The inaugural project, "Desire," an exhibition of music, photography and large-scale installation pieces by David Byrne of the Talking Heads, opens.

1997: The Clark and Mass MoCA organize the conference, "Reimagining Museums for New Art," on the changing role of contemporary art museums.

1998: The Clark sponsored "EarMarks," one of the largest installations of site-specific sound art on the East Coast. Organized by Thompson, "EarMarks" was located in seven Berkshire County sites, including at the Clark.

May 30, 1999: Mass MoCA debuts with 200,000 square feet of space open to the public. It is the largest center of contemporary visual and performing art in the United States.

1999: Kidspace, a collaboration with The Clark and the Williams College of Art, opens. The Clark also sponsors "Tree Logic," the upside-down tree installation in Mass MoCA's courtyard.

2004: Mass MoCA celebrates its fifth anniversary.

October 2006: Mass MoCA announces a $6 million, privately funded project to renovate 27,000 square feet in Building 7. The new galleries, designed by Bruner/Cott, will house a retrospective of about 50 large "Wall Drawings" by conceptual artist Sol LeWitt. The project is a collaboration with the Yale University Art Gallery.

April 11, 2007: Museum officials announce that $25 million of a $37 million "Permanence Fund" has been raised. This is the first time the museum will have an endowment fund.

April 2008: Teams of LeWitt's former assistants and newly hired apprentices arrive at Mass MoCA to prepare 105 "concept" pieces for display.

Nov. 16, 2008: "Sol LeWitt: A Wall Drawing Retrospective" opens. The exhibit is slated to be on view until 2033.

June 16, 2010: Mass MoCA acquires a large field near the complex and names it Joe's Field.

Aug. 13 -15, 2010: Wilco hosts the first Solid Sound Festival at Mass MoCA at Joe's Field.

April 26, 2011: Mass MoCA officials announce plans for the renovation of Building 6 and the creation of 40,000 square feet of gallery space on the foundation of Building 16.

June 23-25, 2011: Solid Sound Festival returns for a second year.

Sept. 24-25, 2011: FreshGrass: A Festival of Bluegrass and Art debuts at Mass MoCA.

March 6, 2014: Mass MoCA officials announce a $25.4 million state grant that, when combined with $40 million in private donations, will allow the museum to begin the $65.4 million renovation of Building 6, which nearly doubles the size of the museum's gallery space.

May 28, 2017: Mass MoCA's third and final phase, the opening of Building 6, is realized.

March 2020: Pandemic forces Mass MoCA and other museums to close, with layoffs affecting three-fourths of 165-member staff.

July 11, 2020: Museum reopens with new rules on staggered admission times, in light of the pandemic.

Aug. 21, 2020: Museum board announces that Thompson, its founding director, will leave Oct. 29 but will spend the next year as a special counsel helping to firm up its finances.


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