Massachusetts Supports Its Creative Economy

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Western Massachusetts will soon have the largest contemporary art museum in the nation, thanks to an ambitious expansion taking place at the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (Mass MoCa) in North Adams. Phase III of the expansion is underway now, and when it is completed in 2017, the museum will have doubled its gallery space to 250,000 square feet.

That is exciting news for the museum, which opened in 1999 on the site of a 19th century mill complex and has gained a global reputation for showcasing large-scale works of art by some of the world’s leading artists. Nearly 120,000 visitors attend exhibits at the museum each year.

The $55 million expansion phase got a welcome boost recently when Governor Deval Patrick joined state and local officials, museum leaders and the arts community to announce $25.4 million in state funding. The grant is funded through the Governor’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2015 Capital Plan.

The museum has already raised $13.5 million of $30 million in private contributions.

“Through funding our creative industry infrastructure, we are continuing to create a more vibrant place for our students to learn, our families to live and our businesses to grow,” Patrick told the audience.

Here is a short video on MassMoCa.

Governor Patrick has been a strong proponent of the state’s creative industries, which employs over 100,000 people and has a $1 billion economy impact each year. The expanded Mass MoCa will solidify the museum’s link to the North Adams downtown business district through new biking and pedestrian pathways and bridges.

That in turn will be good for the tourism industry.

“This project will not only attract more visitors to the Berkshires every year, but will also help keep them here longer,” said Joseph Thompson, director of Mass MoCa.

Mass MoCa is just one of the excellent art museums in the northwest corner of Massachusetts; others include the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute and the Williams College Museum of Art. Here is a list of museums throughout Massachusetts.

Governor Patrick’s FY 2015 Capital Plan also provides $15 million for the Massachusetts Cultural Facilities Fund to help increase investments from both the public sector and private sector to support the sound planning and development of cultural facilities across Massachusetts. The Patrick Administration has invested nearly $70 million in the Massachusetts creative sector in projects in 118 cities and towns since 2007.