Less grandiose than Newport and more civilized than the Adirondacks, the bucolic Berkshires have been home to artists, writers, and wealthy society folk since the mid-19th century. Visiting the historic residences of famous former denizens is quite an eye-opening experience. Throw in a variety of crackerjack museums and drool-worthy art collections and you have yourself one culture-packed fall weekend.
photograph by David Dashiell
The Mount, author Edith Wharton’s home in Lenox, looks spectacular as the trees change color. Ghost tours are held Friday nights. (edithwharton.org, 413-551-5111)
photograph by Kevin Sprague, Studio Two
On Friday evening September 14, the literary Berkshire WordFest weekend commences at The Mount. This year’s theme is “Channeling Edith Wharton,” with acclaimed writers like Adam Gopnik and Francine du Plessix Gray set to speak.
photograph from Berkshire Museum
Pittsfield’s Berkshire Museum wows visitors with a Native American exhibit of contemporary artworks and historic objects. The show runs until January 6. (berkshiremuseum.org, 413-443-7171)
photograph by Jonathan Wiggs/Globe staff/file
Ventfort Hall (gildedage.org, 413-637-3206) in Lenox is still undergoing restoration to its Gilded Age magnificence. (The Jacobean Revival estate served as the exterior set for the 1999 film The Cider House Rules.) Already brought back to its original splendor is the charmingly quirky first floor featuring rich, carved wood and Victorian finery. A bonus for fashion lovers: “Les Petites Dames de Mode,” an exhibit of 59 haute couture dolls wearing historically accurate gowns.
photograph by Jeremy Clowe
The Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge showcases the artist’s works. (nrm.org, 413-298-4100)
photograph by Art Evans
In addition to many iconic images — and Rockwell’s working studio, relocated from his home — all 323 of the artist’s famous Saturday Evening Post covers are currently on view, along with a sports-themed show with plenty of guy appeal.
photograph from Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio
For abstract art lovers, the Frelinghuysen Morris House & Studio (frelinghuysen.org, 413-637-0166) in Lenox is a mid-century-modern masterpiece of architecture, furnishings, and paintings.The husband-and-wife owners, George L.K. Morris and Suzy Frelinghuysen, were part of the talented patrician painters’ group known as the “Park Avenue Cubists.” The couple filled their strikingly original summer home with paintings by themselves and other artists such as Pablo Picasso and Fernand Leger.
photograph by Mark Wilson/Globe staff/file
Mass MoCA (massmoca.org, 413-662-2111) in North Adams provides 110,000 square feet of exhibition space (one gallery alone is the size of a football field) dedicated to showcasing avant-garde and cutting-edge contemporary art — including some rather colossal pieces — all sure to engage, enrage, or just puzzle. A multidisciplinary performance center is also on site.
photograph from The Boston Globe/file
For anyone with delusions of grandeur, Naumkeag (thetrustees.org, 413-298-3239) in Stockbridge is what you might call a manageable mansion — less ostentatious than the Newport “cottages” — but pretty darn grand, with rooms luxuriously furnished much as they were when the Choate family of New York summered there. Designed in 1885 by renowned architectural firm McKim, Mead, and White, the house has killer views of the surrounding hills and gardens.
photograph from massachusetts office of travel and tourism
DID YOU KNOW? Peak fall foliage typically occurs October 1 to 14 in the Berkshires, earlier than every other region in the state.
Source: Massachusetts Office of Travel and Tourism