MASS MoCA Fall Schedule

Program Through December

By: - Aug 03, 2016

MASS MoCA heads into the fall with the 6th annual FreshGrass Festival on September 16-18, a rollicking weekend largely devoted to artists in roots and acoustic bluegrass music — and powers through until December when Dinosaur Jr. takes the stage in a night of power-grunge. In between, swoon for Benjamin Clementine in the Hunter and Eisa Davis up in the Club — and witness what might be one of the most powerful, poignant, and political works we have ever exhibited.
Nick Cave: Until
October 15 marks a moment as Nick Cave’s massive Building 5 exhibition, Until, opens with a members’ reception at 5:30pm, signaling a new phase of the storied artist’s career. The immersive exhibition consists of thousands of found objects, millions of beads, and crystal clouds, effectively turning the space into a dense, dazzling, and provocative sculptural field. Until — a double play on the phrase “innocent until proven guilty,” or, as Cave’s work might suggest, “guilty until proven innocent” — addresses issues of violence, gun policies, race relations, and gender politics in America today. In the final hours of a contentious election in which issues of race and gun violence dominate social and political agendas, this is truly work made for our time.

Also in the Galleries
Cave’s Until functions as set design as much as exhibition, and the stunning Helga Davis is the first performer to take on the transformed space with her solo performance on October 28. Sarah Crowner, another artist whose works serve as a stage, together with Carolyn Schoerner and James Hoff, presents Post Tree, a performance of live dance and music set within the Crowner galleries, on October 22
The Big Shows
The fall season is a delicious serving of up-and-coming artists and established rockers. The FreshGrass Festival on September 16-18 boasts one of the most compelling lineups of the Northeast festival scene, with artists as disparate as Old Crow Medicine Show, Glen Hansard, Ricky Skaggs, Rosanne Cash, and Aoife O’Donovan. Over 50 bands hit three stages over three days, pop up in the galleries for the FreshGrass Award, score silent films with live music, conduct music workshops — and share a weekend that’s nothing short of magic musical moments with our adventuresome and appreciative audience. FreshGrass, now in its sixth year, is a signature weekend for the museum each September. Benjamin Clementine, here at the behest of Nick Cave, punctuates the October 15 opening of Until with a Hunter Center concert that promises to imprint this mercurial, genius Londoner on the mind and soul of every audience member lucky enough to attend. Clementine is esteemed for his lyrics that are as political as they are personal and heartbreaking, largely inspired by his painful childhood and rendered poetically in an otherworldly mashup of soul, poetry, classical piano, and pop. On November 18 and 19, The Magnetic Fields celebrates its master songsmith Stephin Merritt’s half-century mark with a two-day, 50-song world premiere featuring (at least!) 50 instruments. The December 3 showing of JUÁREZ: A Documentary Mythology uncovers the violent history of two neighboring border towns: El Paso, Texas, and Juárez, Mexico. The riveting documentary features Theater Mitu’s company in a live performance, and Juárez-born Artistic Director Rubén Polendo. Dinosaur Jr. closes out the season on December 10. Frontman and grunge rock hero J Mascis journeys over the mountain from Amherst with his screaming guitar and bandmates to show that the band’s garage-rock grind is as powerful as ever.
This season’s residency programs feature new blood and an old favorite. On October 22, John Kelly presents a mixed-media, multi-platform performance using dance, spoken word, and projections to discuss gender, culture, and queer history. Kelly uses his personal, `80s-era-East-Village diary entries as inspiration for his work. In its annual visit, Sundance Theatre Lab presents a work-in-progress performance on December 9 that stars young professionals itching to make it big. The ink may still be wet on the page — and that provides for an unpredictable night of high-quality, see-it-before-it’s-in-lights theater.

Up in the Club
Jena Friedman dishes the audience some quick and witty laughs on October 1. Writing and producing for The Late Show with David Letterman and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Friedman’s dry, perceptive comedy doubles as life advice. On October 8, Peter Salett, well known for the songs he wrote for feature films Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Role Models, and Keeping the Faith (featuring his famous song, “Heart of Mine”), takes the stage with “Suite for Summer Rain.” Salett plays a hypnotic, ambient set suggestive of the sounds of nature, while Michael Arthur live-sketches delicate imagery — projected behind Salett — for a pacific marriage of sound and image. Big Thief steals away from Brooklyn for the band’s November 5 MASS MoCA debut. The indie-folk-rock up-and-comers have caught props from major venues and outlets, topping NPR Music’s “Best New Acts of 2016” list. Rolling Stone says: “[Big Thief’s] songs cut from memories too deep to shake, too hard to live with and too pure to simply fold away in some dank corner and ignore.” Eisa Davis — whom audiences will recognize from her appearances on the Netflix series House of Cards — assumes the stage on November 12 and hits the audience with just a piano and her unbreakable voice — the music is raw, and her multi-hyphenate talent is undeniable.
Annual Benefit
The MASS MoCA Benefit in New York City falls on October 25 on a Tribeca rooftop. Celebrate this 12th annual event with dinner, drinks, music, and a live art auction. Nick Cave, Bob Faust, Sarah Crowner, Alex Da Corte, and Andrew & Christine Hall co-chair this festive night in support of museum programming. Bessie Award-winning troupe Lava performs.

For Members
A members-only tour, “From Mill to Museum" is offered on October 1, in which members travel back in time with a historical tour of MASS MoCA’s campus. The free event ends with a coffee social in the galleries.  

Buy Now, Save Money
MASS MoCA discounts tickets 25% for fall 2016 performances when purchased by August 28. Discounts do not apply to FreshGrass, the New York City Benefit, The Magnetic Fields, Dinosaur Jr., and member openings. Discounts do not combine, and discounted tickets are non-refundable and non-transferrable.

Tickets for all events are available through the MASS MoCA box office located on Marshall Street in North Adams. The box office is open 10am to 6pm every day, with extended evening hours to 7pm on Thursdays through Saturdays. Beginning September 6, the box office is open 11am to 5pm every day except Tuesdays. Tickets can also be charged by phone by calling 413.662.2111 x1 during box office hours or purchased online at All events are held rain or shine.    

Season at a Glance, by Date





Sept. 16-18

All day

FreshGrass Festival

Music Festival

Oct. 1


Jena Friedman


Oct. 8


Suite for Summer Rain/Dance of the Yellow Leaf

Music with Projections

Oct. 15


Nick Cave: Until Opening Reception

Members’ Opening

Oct. 15


Benjamin Clementine

Live Music

Oct. 22


John Kelley: Time No Line

Work-In-Progress: Theater

Oct. 22


Post Tree

Dance in the Galleries

Oct. 25

6:30 pm

Benefit in New York City


Oct. 28


Helga Davis

Music in the Galleries

Nov. 5


Big Thief

Live Music

Nov. 12


Eisa Davis

Live Music

Nov. 18-19


The Magnetic Fields: 50 Song Memoir

Live Music

Dec. 3


JUÁREZ: A Documentary Mythology


Dec. 9


Sundance Theatre Lab

Work-In-Progress: Theater

Dec. 10


Dinosaur Jr.

Live Music

Summer (June 25–September 5)
Sundays–Wednesdays, 10am–6pm
Thursdays–Saturdays, 10am–7pm
After September 5
11am to 5pm, six days a week (closed Tuesdays)