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Mass MoCA talks expansion

Museum director Joseph Thompson at Mass MoCA’s Building 6 in 2014.Nancy Palmieri

As the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art prepares to open its newly renovated Building 6 this May, museum director Joseph Thompson has been making the rounds to introduce the $65 million project.

His latest stop was New York, where he was joined Wednesday by performance artist (and Mass MoCA habitué) Laurie Anderson for a roundtable discussion outlining the project, which will add a whopping 130,000 square feet of usable space to the museum’s footprint.The project will also nearly double the North Adams institution’s gallery space, provide studios for art fabrication, amenities for music festival guests, and support facilities for performing artists, among other things.


“If most museums are boxes for static display, MASS MoCA has always aspired to be more like a turntable,” Thompson said in a statement. “At its heart, the expansion deepens our commitment to the interplay of visual and performing arts at a time when they are increasingly intertwined, fluid, and mutually reinforcing.”

The main feature of Building 6 will be its blend of long-term installations, changing exhibitions, and collaborations with artists such as James Turrell, Jenny Holzer, and Anderson, as well as the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, the estate of Gunnar Schonbeck, and the Louise Bourgeois Trust.

Designed by Cambridge-based architects Bruner/Cott & Associates (who also designed the first two phases of museum renovations as well as the Sol LeWitt building), the renovation is part of the museum’s ongoing transformation of its 28-building, 16-acre campus. The current phase also calls for a bike path to wind through the Mass MoCA campus — including a tunnel that crosses Building 6 — which will connect to a network of area trails around Mount Greylock.

“The way in which our radically changed circulation path will expose our audiences to the entire campus network of interior courtyards, performing arts fields, elevated walkways, and lightwells increases the experience of our facilities by an order of magnitude,” said Thompson.


Malcolm Gay can be reached at malcolm.gay@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @malcolmgay