Berkshire Museum Named Smithsonian Affiliate

Access to Smithsonian's 136 Million Objects

By: - Jun 01, 2013

Berkshire Berkshire

The Berkshire Museum has been named a Smithsonian Affiliate, a prestigious designation that marks the beginning of a long-term collaboration between the two institutions. The relationship will facilitate the loan of Smithsonian artifacts and traveling exhibitions as well as the opportunity to develop innovative educational collaborations. The affiliation will be announced by Harold A. Closter, director of Smithsonian Affiliations, at a short ceremony to be held on Friday, June 14, 2013, at 6:30 p.m. The announcement will take place during the opening reception for PaperWorks: The Art and Science of an Extraordinary Material, Berkshire Museum’s summer exhibition.

The new cooperative relationship between the Berkshire Museum and the Smithsonian is one of the highlights of the Museum’s 110th anniversary year. There are currently 177 Smithsonian Affiliates in 42 states, Puerto Rico, and Panama. Berkshire Museum is the only Affiliate in Western Massachusetts; there are only four other Affiliates in the Commonwealth.

“Since 1903, generations of families from Western Massachusetts and beyond have enjoyed the extensive collections on display at the Berkshire Museum. Combining art, history, and natural science, the Museum has earned a reputation as one of the finest institutions of its kind in the country. The exciting partnership with the Smithsonian will make a visit to the Berkshire Museum even more rewarding and memorable. When Zenas Crane established the Museum more than a century ago, he was inspired by an appreciation of the great museums in America. The new collaboration between the Berkshire Museum and the Smithsonian makes his vision complete,” says Congressman Richard E. Neal.

“It is a distinct honor to partner with the Smithsonian,” says Bill Hines Jr., president of the Berkshire Museum Board of Trustees. “This affiliation represents an exceptional opportunity to share the extensive resources of the Smithsonian, an institution of international renown, with our community.”

As an Affiliate, Berkshire Museum is now part of a select group of museums that share the Smithsonian’s extraordinary resources with the nation. Berkshire Museum now has access to the Smithsonian collections of more than 136 million objects, as well as the knowledge and experience of the scholars and experts at the Smithsonian, allowing the Berkshire Museum curatorial staff to develop richer exhibitions. Smithsonian travelling exhibitions, speakers, films, and educational programs are also available for use by the Berkshire Museum.

“This exciting venture brings the richness and range of the Smithsonian’s holdings to the people of Western Massachusetts,” says Van Shields, Berkshire Museum executive director. “We are proud and pleased to be able to offer our visitors enhanced educational opportunities and enriched exhibitions as a result of this important new relationship. With our own permanent collection encompassing art, history, and natural science, and a mission to foster inspiring educational connections among those areas, entering into a partnership with the Smithsonian, with extensive holdings in all of those disciplines, greatly expands our capability for serving the people of the Berkshires.”

“We are delighted to welcome the Berkshire Museum into our Smithsonian partnership program,” says Harold A. Closter, director of Smithsonian Affiliations. “The Berkshire Museum is one of our country’s premier regional museums, well known for its significant collections, accomplished staff, commitment to education, and service to the people of Western Massachusetts. We look forward to developing exhibitions, programs, and research collaborations that will highlight the important work of both of our organizations.”

About Smithsonian Affiliations

Established in 1996, Smithsonian Affiliations is a national outreach program which develops long-term collaborative partnerships with museums and educational and cultural organizations to enrich communities with Smithsonian artifacts, scholars, educational programs, and professional development opportunities. The long-term goal of Smithsonian Affiliations is to facilitate a two-way relationship among Smithsonian Affiliates and Smithsonian museums, research, education, and outreach organizations to increase discovery, inspiration, and lifelong learning in communities across America. More information about the Smithsonian Affiliations program and Affiliate activity is available at

About Berkshire Museum

Established by Zenas Crane in 1903, Berkshire Museum integrates art, history, and natural science in a wide range of programs and exhibitions that inspire educational connections between the disciplines. PaperWorks: The Art and Science of an Extraordinary Material will be on view June 15 through October 26, 2013. Objectify: A Look into the Permanent Collection is ongoing. Little Cinema is open year-round. Feigenbaum Hall of Innovation, Worlds in Miniature, Aquarium, and other exhibits are ongoing. Located in downtown Pittsfield, Massachusetts, at 39 South St., Berkshire Museum is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday. For more information, visit or call 413.443.7171.