4 Berkshire institutions you can still enjoy
Museums, buildings may be closed but you can still explore the grounds of these cultural institutions
The buildings and galleries of cultural institutions around the Berkshires are temporarily shuttered due to COVID-19 precautions, but several have opened their grounds and walking trails to the public. Admission is free, unless noted. Of course, these venues are reminding visitors to practice social distancing — minimizing contact and maintaining a distance of at least 6 feet from others.
Berkshire Botanical Garden
5 West Stockbridge Road, Stockbridge
Hours: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
"Although all Berkshire Botanical Garden's buildings are closed to the public and most of the staff continue to work remotely, we invite the public to walk the grounds and see spring unfolding," Robin Parow, Berkshire Botanical's director of marketing communications, said in an email. "It's a place where visitors can breathe deeply and get a bit of respite from the world at large."
Berkshire Botanical's 24 acres are generally wheelchair friendly, with paths through many parts, but the terrain is variable. Some gardens are only accessible by stone steps, but these areas are still able to be seen from multiple locations. Seating is available throughout the garden.
Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute
225 South St., Williamstown
Hours: Daily, dawn to dusk.
"Our doors may be temporarily closed, but The Clark is very much open for exploration and discovery," said Victoria T. Saltzman, The Clark's director of communications, in an email. "Our campus and walking trails remain open for everyone, full of amazing views and beautiful up-close discoveries as spring begins to emerge. There's plenty of room for social distancing and abundant fresh air!"
She added, "Plus, there's art on the grounds that you can enjoy during these days where galleries are restricted, including our 'Thomas Schutte: Crystal,' the Jenny Holzer benches on our terrace, the new Giuseppe Penone sculpture of an upside-down tree, 'Le Folle delle Radici,' on the front lawn of the 1955 white marble museum building, and 'Katana,' a sculpture that sits on the lawn on the far north side of our entrance drive"
The Clark's campus includes 140 acres of lawns, meadows and wooded hiking trails. Five campus trails and four Williamstown trails cross the property, including the 0.7-mile Pasture Trail, which takes visitors from the Clark Center through a meadow to the Lunder Center at Stone Hill and the 0.6-mile Stone Bench Trail.
2 Plunkett St., Lenox
Hours: Daily, dawn to dusk
The Mount is closed annually during the months of March and April, but its grounds remain open to the public.
"People can come out and enjoy the grounds, using social distancing practices of a distance of 6 feet, of course," said Rebecka McDougall, The Mount's communications and community outreach director, during a phone interview. "Everything is really starting to green up."
Visitors are encouraged to take a walk around the property, wander the gardens or explore the estate's woodland trails.
105 Weatogue Road, Sheffield
Hours: Open daily, sunrise to sunset.
Admission: Free for members. $5 for non-members and $1 for non-member children, ages 6 to 12.
"The spring ephemerals should be coming out at Bartholomew's Cobble soon. That is a great walk for anyone - adults or families," Christine Boynton,
manager of coastal communications for The Trustees of Reservations, said in an email.
Bartholomew's Cobble is made up of mostly of quartzite and marble rock features and boasts an unusual array of flora, according to The Trustees website, the cobbles is home to one of North America's greatest diversities of fern species and also boasts one of the largest Cottonwood trees in the state. The 329-acre reservation features 5 miles of trails, most of which are considered moderate hiking. The high point at Bartholomew's Cobble, Hurlburt's Hill, rises 1,000 feet to a 20-acre upland field on the Massachusetts-Connecticut border that offers panoramic views northward up the Housatonic River Valley.
Hikers should set aside two hours for the hike and print out a downloadable trail map found on the website. Other Trustees' properties that offer hiking include Tyringham Cobble in Tyringham, Monument Mountain in Great Barrington and Questing and Dry Hill in New Marlborough.
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