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Williamstown Day Trip

by Kathryn Boughton

The entrance to Williamstown MA is open and green in summer. The verdant campus of Williams College blends into the village proper, a vision of manicured perfection that invites the visitor to linger, to explore, to carry away memories.

A brief exploration of the community soon reveals cultural riches, for here is the impressive Clark Art Institute, its sister museum, the Williams College Museum of Art, and, for theater lovers, the Williamstown Theatre Festival.

The Clark at 225 South Street features European and American art in all media from the Renaissance to the early 20th century. The collection, especially rich in French Impressionist and Academic paintings, also has works by American artists Winslow Homer, George Inness and John Singer Sargent.

This summer it is featuring Van Gogh and Nature - nearly fifty paintings and drawings drawn from thirty museums and private collections around the world. For those who want more than simply looking at the paintings, the museum will present a lecture, Painting Simply Flowers: Van Gogh and Nineteenth-Century Flower Culture on Sunday, August 23, at 4PM in the West Pavilion.

James McNeill Whistler's famous Arrangement in Grey and Black, No. 1, better known as Whistler's Mother, is also on view through September 27 and will be the subject of a Gallery Talk at the Lunder Center at Stone Hill Galleries, 225 South Street, July 24 at 3:30PM and August 8 at 11AM.

Contemporary artist Thomas Schütte’s Crystal, his first full-scale architectural artwork in the United States, is on view in a meadow atop Stone Hill. A Conversation about Thomas Schütte: Crystal is planned for Sunday August 16 at 3PM in the Lunder Center.

The Clark is open daily, 10AM – 5PM : Phone 413-458-2303.

An eclectic collection can be found at the Williams College Museum of Art, where about half the 13,000 pieces comprise the American Collection, with works by notables such as Edward Hopper, Winslow Homer and Grant Wood.

This summer it is featuring four exhibitions, complementing the Clark’s exhibition of Whistler’s works with Whistler Up Close, The Loosening of Time: Maurice and Charles Prendergast, Imagining the Trojan War and Warhol by the Book.

The museum at 15 Lawrence Hall Drive #2 is open 10AM - 5PM Tuesday - Saturday and 1-5 PM Sunday; Phone 413-597-2429.

The Williamstown Theatre Festival at1000 Main Street provides stellar summer theater, which annually draws entertainment luminaries such as Kevin Kline, Richard Dreyfuss, Gwyneth Paltrow and this year, Kyra Segwick.

The festival, the first summer theater to win the Regional Theatre Tony Award, continues until the third week in August and offers a mix of classics and contemporary works. In addition, there are cabaret performances in area restaurants and family nights when children attend free.

For more information call the Box Office at 413-597-3400.

Nothing spices up a visit to a community more than an exploration of its culinary scene and Williamstown has an array of flavors to choose among. Pappa Charlie’s Deli at 28 Spring Street reflects the college scene and the summer repertory season with rich coffee and whimsically named sandwiches such as the Richard Dreyfuss, a thick pastrami and provolone combination, or the Politician, which promises anything you want.

Hot Tomatoes at 100 Water Street provides thin-crust Neapolitan-style take-out pizzas that can be enjoyed on the riverside picnic tables in the back yard while those desiring more elegant fare can try Mezze at 777 Cold Spring Road, which blends contemporary American with classic French and Japanese influences. Mezze stresses farm-to-table freshness that begins with its onsite garden.