Former mills towns are now top arts destinations in the Northeast.
Art Tour in Massachusetts's Berkshire Mountains and Pioneer Valley
Credit: David Cicconi

Thanks in part to the largesse of their alumni, the area’s colleges (Amherst, Williams, Smith, and Mount Holyoke) have remarkable museums that have helped turn this community of former mill towns and working farms into a thriving arts destination.

Mount Holyoke College Art Museum

The campus museum boasts 10 galleries dedicated to Asian, Renaissance, and contemporary art.

Café Latino Restaurant

This MASS MoCA restaurant is one of the best museum eateries.


The museum is a village in miniature spread over 13 acres, with 26 buildings dedicated to art, music, dance, film, and theater. The institution can showcase exhibits of immense proportions and is the largest center for contemporary visual and performing arts in the country. For the next 25 years, the Sol LeWitt retrospective will be on view, another draw for this remote Berkshire property.

Williams College Museum of Art

At the entrance satnad Eyes (2001), massive gray marble slabs with round, watchful eyes perched on top, by phenomenal Paris-born sculptor Louise Bourgeois.

The Clark

The new Stone Hill Center was desined by Pritzker-winner Japanese architect Tadao Ando. The original museum is a glowing white-marble temple desined by Daniel Perry in 1955. The museum owns one of only five Piero della Francescas in the United States - Virgin and Child Enthroned with Four Angels (circa 1460-70).

Mead Art Museum

The institution is known as a compact bastion of American treasures - Robert Henri's Salome (1909) is housed here. The museum has recently acquired a collection of Russian art, mostly the fits of one collector, Thomas P. Whitney, class of 1937.

Fine Arts Center, University of Massachusetts at Amherst

The concrete box, designed by architects Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo in 1975, contains a concert hall and a little-known contemporary art gallery.

Lhasa Café

The Tibetan restaurant serves yak that is spicy and tender. Order yours with a glass of robust Cabernet.

Hotel Northampton

The 1927 Colonial Revival building in the center of Northampton has cozy appeal with its fireplace, feather duvets, and whirlpool tubs.

Smith College Museum of Art

A large majority of the artworks here are gifts of alumnae - many of whom started donating their prized posessions in the early 1900's. The building's $35 million renovation in 2003 transformed the simple concrete structure into a soaring stee-and-red bring Modernist creation with enormous light-filled galleries. The art collection spans more than 4,500 years.

Stone Hill Center

Art and architecture buffs have a new reason to head to the Berkshires this summer: the Stone Hill Center, Pritzker Prize-winning architect Tadao Ando's addition to the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute. The concrete-and-glass building houses galleries, a terrace cafe, and a studio where visitors can watch art conservators at work.

Porches Inn

Paint-by-number pictures adorn the 47 retro rooms at Porches Inn. The string of dignified old Victorian row houses that provided homes for foremen of the printing plant opposite it are decorated with detergent-prize plates along the tongue-and-groove walls at the inn, alongside Mohawk Trail memorabilia.