WILLIAMSTOWN -- The architect behind the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute’s $180 million overall expansion believes that it will become a worldwide destination when the final phase of the multiple-year project is unveiled in July 2014.
"It will be one of the few places in the world, like the Kuller-Muller Museum in the Netherlands, where there is a great relationship between the art and the landscape," Tadao Ando, the world-renowned Japanese architect behind the Stone Hill Center and the soon-to-be visitor, exhibition and conference center, said Monday through translator and fellow architect Kulapat Yantrasast.
But Ando believes the Clark’s blend of nature and art will far exceed those few similar offerings found around the world when the final phase of construction -- the $145 million exhibition and conference center -- is complete. The overall expansion’s $180 million price tag includes the museum’s Stone Hill Center.
"This will be a better experience, since the land is all flat [at the Kuller-Muller]," he said. "The Clark has this variety, which allows one to have a different perspective from within the campus. I think the Clark is one of the best kept secrets in America. Once people know the Clark, they will love it and it will be a place people come to visit."
Ando believes the museum’s traveling exhibition -- 73 pieces from its collection, which includes pieces by Renoir and Monet
"Unlike other museums, it’s location in this natural landscape [that] will offer a very unique experience," he said. "I think that you can see that the work in progress is part of a larger plan in relationship to the Stone Hill Center and to the landscape."
When the project is finished, visitors to the museum will be greeted by a lily pad pond as they make their way to the newly designed entrance, which will feature a long promenade backed by a rose granite wall hewn from the same quarry in Minnesota as the original granite used to build the Manton Research Center.
"We tried to make it quite long, so people can have a moment to relax and be themselves," Ando said. "I really believe the way we look at the work, the meanings and the importance of the work, is really depending a lot on what state or what are your feelings at the time.
You can see the buildings are quite low and many parts underground, because we wanted to have less impact on the landscape and to have Stone Hill visible to its visitors."
Clark Director Michael Conforti is also confident the design, along with the three-year international tour of the collection, will catapult the museum and its 140-acre campus into the global consciousness.
"Our international tour, which has 12 stops, is raising the global consciousness of the body of our collections," he said. "I would love to see the Clark included with the museums on the list of ‘1,000 Places to See Before You Die.’ There are only five or six very special places in the world where private collections can be seen in these extraordinary rural environments."
He added, "In this new age of global tourism, I see the Clark as having a very significant role, I dare say, a leadership role."