The Clark Museum


Two weeks ago, as you’re reading this, my super amazing girlfriend and I were back in the Berkshires! The major upswing for you is that I have included a picture of some cute cows at the top!

But in addition to hanging out with entertaining farm animals, we also decided to get some culture in, and visited The Clark, which is an art museum. For social distancing measures, they had timed tickets, and we decided to get there as early as possible. When we arrived there were some early rains, courtesy of Isaias, leading to a somewhat gloomy-looking scene in their courtyard outside:


The existence of The Clark made me ponder what is the ideal number of art museums to have. This museum surprised me; I had never ever heard of them, but they had Degas and Stuart and Monet and Renoir and Van Gogh and Rodin! Surely there is a number of art museums that is too high; if there were too many, you could never collect all those artists all in one place. Then again maybe an art museum for every individual person would make more room for newer artists and lesser-known artists instead of just these sorta dudes. It also has to be possible to have too few art museums. The Louvre, I hear, is pretty great, but already you can never get through it all. If all of earth’s art were crammed into one spot, then very few people could get to it, and no one could appreciate it.

When I walk around art museums, I like to take pictures. I think it gives me a sense of ownership over the pictures. I also really enjoy art museum gift shops, because they let you in some way take the art home. This is perhaps not the best way to appreciate art, but it does let me share with you versions of the artworks that are far worse than what you would see in person, by virtue of being taken on my just okay camera with my just okay eye for framing. My favorite was the piece below, titled “Reverie – The Letter:”


Sometimes this whole “take a picture of the artwork so I can feel like I took a piece of it home” also extends to the physical pieces the wind up in these places, like the below. I have been meaning to check if I could find either of these things to buy and keep in the home, each for very specific reasons. The thing on the left is apparently a nutmeg grinder, and I have very fond memories of grinding fresh nutmeg over painkillers, so you can see why it appealed to me. The thing on the right, on the other hand, is called “sugar nippers,” which is inherently hilarious and you can also see why I would want one.


I also sometimes take pictures of things in art museums that are only tangentially related to art. I noticed that the museum took great care to make the clamps that were holding pieces of artwork down blended into whatever they were clamping. They really put some effort into this! You can see some of those efforts in the collage below. On the painting, they made sure to do some sorta pointillist thing to make the clamps blend in, and on both of the statues they painted in some marbling which I found impressive. I just thought they were some fantastic little details:


There is also another theme that is sure to get my attention in art museums, and that is boats! The gift shop had a postcard of the below painting, so I did in fact get to take some of the artwork home, but they didn’t have any lapel pins for sale. The Berkshires has a severe lack of lapel pins, frankly. Someone should get on that.


The Clark is actually separated into at least two parts, and they had a separate annex where they were exhibiting some work by Lin May Saeed which was very interesting. There was one large piece done out of paper that really spoke to me because I had previously read The Marsh Arabs.

To get to the annex you had to take a ~8 minute walk on some trails outside the museum. We took different paths to get up there and to get back. The walk up took us through the woods which was lovely. The rain had just let up, so they were quiet and peaceful. On the way back we took a different path which took us by a field which apparently sometimes has cows. The fence pictured below is an artwork titled “Teaching a Cow How to Draw” by Analia Saban, a title which to me has strong Cow Tools vibes. But it seemed to me to be a pretty nice fence, and I think it was raw wood, so it would be interesting to see it age into the landscape.


By the time we had made it down to The Clark proper, the sun was largely out and the museum had started to get more crowded, so people were out and about in the courtyard that had been rather rainy and gloomy just a bit before. It was nice to see the place populated, pandemic-related concerns aside. Places like that only come alive when there are people in them: