On July 4th, the long awaited $145 million addition and renovation of the Clark Art Institute opened. A beloved museum in the Berkshires, the Clark has been for decades everyone’s secret discovery. Planning began in 2001 and all signs (including a recent review in the New York Times) pointed to an extraordinary success.
Sadly, it is far from that. Like the Brooklyn Museum’s new entrance unveiled in 2004, the addition is an unfriendly imposition that ignores the spirit of the original architecture and is at odds with the collection it houses. Designed by Tadao Ando, the extension and landscaping dishonors its founders with an anonymous space that could be any museum in the world, not one of the crown jewels of New England. It seems far too meaningful that the Styrofoam backed panels on “The Clark Story” and the portraits of the founders, are now relegated to the basement (sorry, Lower Lobby) — with the rest rooms.