Recommended Day Trip: MASS MoCA

MASS MoCA is a playground. Located just an hour-or-so’s drive away, in North Adams, it makes for an easily justifiable road trip escaping Albany for the day. The drive practically does itself, especially on a nice day, considering the trek to get there brings you through the Berkshires on scenic country back roads.

MASS MoCA is a cultural mecca that upon visiting doesn’t have an overwhelming collection of work on display and you can see it all in one day. Some museums require multiple visits, or sacrificing some exhibits to see others, but MASS MoCA is not one of those places. However, that being said, do not be ill-advised: there is plenty to keep you busy and entertained for hours.

Birds eye of the installation in the biggest room at MASS MoCA

Additionally, some museums have this effect where this “thing” happens where people feel as though it is proper etiquette to hold back, as if saying the “wrong” thing in the same room as other art onlookers is the worst crime imaginable. Museum visits can be totally awkward sometimes and full of uncomfortable silences. MASS MoCA again is not one of those places. I felt comfortable enough to go crazy with iPhone photography and also started a conversation with a stranger about the work that we were both soaking in.

MASS MoCA has an interactive, pleasant vibe to it, even if the art installation itself is of look-don’t-touch stature. It could be the building itself or the friendly staff or a combination of things. The building overall has an industrial feel to it, from the bathroom stalls (upon visiting you’ll know what I mean), to the tall, wide windows with sunlight soaking through to exposed brick for days. Lots of little quaint details that were almost as interesting to stumble upon as the art itself. Good atmosphere.

MASS MoCA is notorious for its constant rotation of contemporary art and I am not sure how “new” the installations I saw yesterday were, but either way, if I went back in two weeks, it’s guaranteed that I’d find new things to look at. For me, there was a nice balance of different artists and their respected works.

Each gallery within the museum was easy to digest, I didn’t get lost (unless I wanted to) and there were auditory components to some of the visuals. Different rooms teetered off to focus a video reel of footage, where I could either pass by or sit down and watch a while. The experience was up to the experiencer. As a contemporary art museum should be.

Other main perk by far was the price — An adult is $15, and take $5 off that if you are a student. The gallery’s entry fee definitely gets you your money worth if you spend time fully wandering and exploring the space.

You can see their upcoming exhibits, performances and full viewing hours here.

Some photos from my visit:

sht is f’d up ‘n bullsht

A row of TVs in front of a bench, with distorted and random French audio, heard wearing headphones.

One of the many rooms in the three-floor installation featuring the work of Sol LeWitt.

Canned laughter, part of “the Workers” installation with audio clips of manic laughter.

Necklace I got from the antique/thrift shop neighboring MASS MoCA.

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