Start by slowing down—pause for a few minutes in the lobby and think about the two important tenants that preceded MASS MoCA: Arnold Print Works, which was the largest manufacturer of printed cotton fabrics in the world, and then Sprague Electric Company, a giant in the grand age of radio & TV. From the material world of fabric printing presses, to the quasi-material world of advanced electronics, to the immaterial world of art and ideas, this factory campus traces the entire arc of industrialization and post-industrialization. You might feel those traces of history, progress, and toil in the worn wooden floors, the wavy window panes and the light they permit into the gorgeous spaces, and the lively art you are about to enjoy.
Now it’s time to pick up the speed. As you make your way directly to our signature “Building 5 Gallery,” which we also call “The Big Gallery,” check out the temporary exhibitions you’ll encounter on the way because, at the end of this tour, you will want to circle back to see the works that most intrigued you.
From the Big Gallery, proceed to LeWitt. You’ll only have time for 2 out of the 3 floors; I suggest starting at the ground floor, to see Sol’s earliest work, then jump to floor 3 to enjoy the colorful eruption of his final works. You’ll be amazed at both the consistency of ideas and formal discipline, but also by the astounding range of visual forms that can ensue from a very limited set of rules—it’s humbling.
Exit the south side of the second floor of LeWitt and take the elevated walkway back to the main lobby. If you have kids, give ’em a break and let them enjoy Kidspace. If you don’t, bolt down an espresso at the Lickety Split café, and if you still have a minute to spare, check out one of the temporary exhibitions you steamed by 50 minutes ago on the way to the Big Gallery. Be sure to buy our catalogue at Hardware on the way out, so you can see what you missed and study what you saw.