WILLIAMSTOWN -- The final phase of the Clark Art Institute's $170 million expansion project, due for completion in July 2014, is generating 523 new construction jobs with an economic impact on Massachusetts labor income of $20.7 million.
That is one of the conclusions of an economic study commissioned by the Clark and conducted by Boston-based Economic Development Research Group (EDR).
Other conclusions indicate that local and state tax revenues will increase by $992,000 per year during construction and $529,000 per year after construction is completed.
The first phase of the 10-year expansion was completed in 2008 when the Stone Hill Center was completed on the southern side of the 140-acre campus. The second phase, an underground infrastructure, security and shipping/receiving dock, was completed in 2011.
The final phase includes construction of a 44,400-square-foot visitor and exhibition center, which features glass walls that bring light into the building and allows visitors to better connect with the natural surroundings.
The project includes a total renovation of the original museum building as well as the Manton Research Center. Then there is the installation of new landscaping that includes a 1.5-acre reflecting pool, which will allow for ice skating in the winter.
After completion, the expanded museum and research center is likely to generate an additional 80 jobs related to the tourism industry, according to the EDM study.
Michael Conforti, director of the Clark Art Institute, said the size and scope of the project will dramatically improve the Clark's ability to enhance art research and conservation, and the exhibition of the Clark's own collections and visiting collections from around the world.
He added that it would likely have the "unintended consequence" of helping to lure people to live in, or even open new businesses, in the Berkshires.
The expansion, he noted, will allow for "grander" art exhibitions, and an ability to adjust exhibition space for the needs of the many unique traveling international exhibits. It will also provide expanded space for scholarly efforts to study art and art history, likely resulting in more visits from students, art scholars, artists and art historians.
Figures provided by the Clark show an average annual attendance of about 200,000 people.
With the expansion, Conforti noted, "as people look at the quality and variety of things to do here, the Clark ends up being a more prominent star than in the past."
Funding for the expansion came from benefactors, foundations and "some borrowing," he said.
In the end, Conforti said the project will allow the Clark to be one of "the major centers for generating ideas and discussions around art," which is at the heart of the Clark's mission.
He added that the Clark's annual operating budget of roughly $15 million will grow by $1 million to $2 million when the project is complete.
According to Williams College economist Stephen Sheppard, "in terms of profile, the Clark is a major cultural institution with international visibility, something the Clark helps bring to Berkshire County."
He said that year-to-year, the Clark has a total impact of roughly $39 million on the local economy, and generates about 440 jobs -- about 70 of them in the food service industry and 125 in hotels.
"It does help sustain the local economy," he said. "They make long-range plans and they follow through on them even when the economy takes a dip. That is a huge advantage."
The Stone Hill Center and the new visitor/exhibition center were both designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, with the corresponding landscape enhancements designed by the landscape architecture firm Reed Hilderbrand.
The new reflecting pool will also serve as part of the museum's water supply, allowing the facility to reduce its water usage by roughly half. The new building will increase the museum's exhibition space by about 45 percent.
Another result of the Clark's enhanced ability to draw visitors will also "bolster all the other cultural attractions in the Berkshires," Conforti said.