ArtBeat: MASS MoCA Takes a Giant Leap Forward

May 23rd, 2017, 12:00 pm by Greg
James Turrell: Breathing Light, 2013 (photo: Floriann Holzerr)

James Turrell: Breathing Light, 2013 (photo: Floriann Holzerr)

Photographs by Sara Ayers, Floriann Holzerr, Leland Brewster, Andreas Engel, Douglas Mason

This is gonna be big. Really BIG…

On Sunday (May 28), MASS MoCA will become one of the largest museums of contemporary art in America.

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The opening of Building 6 will double the capacity of the already sprawling North Adams museum, bringing its total gallery space to a massive 250,000 square feet.

The new exhibition space will feature installations of work by six major artists: sculptor Louise Bourgeois, light artist James Turrell, conceptual text artist Jenny Holzer, multimedia performance artist Laurie Anderson and teacher/instrument-maker Gunnar Schonbeck. Each are long-term installations, which will remain on view at the museum for 15-20 years.

Additional artists to be shown in Building 6 include Spencer Finch, Dawn DeDeaux, Lonnie Holley, Mary Lum, Barbara Ernst Prey, Janice Kerbel, Joe Wardwell, Sarah Crowner, Richard Nonas and the Optics Division of the Metabolic Studio.

“Building 6 encourages patrons to explore our entire 16-acre campus, opening a big, freewheeling, circulation loop, long site lines, and beautiful views onto inner courtyards and the neighborhoods and surrounding hills of North Adams,” explained MASS MoCA’s Executive Director Joe Thompson.

During a recent pre-opening walk-through of the new galleries, Thompson explained that if a museum-goer were to explore all of the galleries, it would be a four-mile walk. “So if it all goes to hell in a hand-basket,” he said, “we can open a health club.”

No worries about that, with this weekend’s opening of Building 6 and the newly installed, mind-boggling works of art, MASS MoCA’s future looks mighty healthy indeed.

GRAND OPENING CELEBRATION

The new Building 6 galleries will be unveiled on Sunday (May 28) with an all-day, grand opening celebration featuring a DJ, food trucks, a members’ preview (10am), opening remarks (12noon), a parade of Nick Cave’s Soundsuits (3pm), the Brooklyn United Marching Band (6pm) and a concert by the rock band Cake at Joe’s Field (8pm).

Admission to the museum for the grand opening event is $20; $18 seniors & veterans; $12 students; $8 kids age 6-16; Free for children under age 6. There is a separate admission charge for the Cake concert – $35 in advance; $45 at the gate.

Joe Wardwell explains the process of creating his wall drawing, <em>Hello America: 40 Hits from the 50 States</em>. (photo: Sara Ayers)

Joe Wardwell explains the process of creating his wall drawing,
Hello America: 40 Hits from the 50 States. (photo: Sara Ayers)

Bang on a Can's Mark Stewart demonstrates one of Gunnar Schonbeck's instrruments (photo: Sara Ayers)

Curator and Bang on a Can guitarist Mark Stewart demonstrates one of Gunnar Schonbeck’s instruments. (photo: Sara Ayers)

Louise Bourgeois: Untitled 1991 © The Easton Foundation /  Licensed by VAGA, NY (photo: Sara Ayers)

Louise Bourgeois: Untitled 1991 © The Easton Foundation / Licensed by VAGA, NY
(photo: Sara Ayers)

Laurie Anderson performing <em>Delusion</em>. (photo: Leland Brewster)

Laurie Anderson performing Delusion. (photo: Leland Brewster)

Barbara Prey stands next to her massive watercolor painting of the interior of Building 6.

Artist Barbara Prey stands next to her massive watercolor painting of the interior of Building 6.
(photo: Sara Ayers)

Jenny Holzer's installation, <em>Rib</em>

Jenny Holzer’s LED installations: Barricade (on the floor) and Ribs. (photo: Sara Ayers)

Gunnar Schonbeck's instruments, awaiting installation. (photo: Andreas Engel)

Gunnar Schonbeck’s instruments, awaiting installation. (photo: Andreas Engel)

One the building's key architectural details is its use of natural light.

One the building’s key architectural details is its use of natural light. (photo: Douglas Mason)

Executive Director Joe Thompson gives an overview of the newly remodeled Building 6 (photo: Sara Ayers)

MASS MoCA’s Executive Director Joe Thompson gives an overview of the newly remodeled Building 6.
(photo: Sara Ayers)

The exterior of the newly-refurbished Bulding 6 (photo: Douglas Mason)

The exterior of the newly-refurbished Bulding 6 (photo: Douglas Mason)