Berkshires Beat: Berkshire Museum Starting Series of Renovations
Construction fencing and heavy machinery will appear on South Street next week as the Berkshire Museum begins essential renovations. Together, three capital projects will preserve the 117-year-old museum structure and protect its unique collection of fine art, historical objects and scientific specimens for many years to come. Improvements include a modern sewer line, freight lift, and extensive waterproofing around the building’s basement level.
The lengthiest and most visible phase of construction will be the installation of a new sewer line to replace the original pipe installed when the historic institution was first built in 1903. The new plumbing will connect to the sewer main located under South Street. To make way for the new sewer line, Wally, the museum's beloved stegosaurus, was transported in April to Louis Paul Jonas Studios in New York for refurbishment. The fiberglass dinosaur will return when work on the front of the building concludes.
Over the coming months, crews will excavate around the museum’s basement level section by section to seal the building’s foundation with a new moisture barrier that will protect the community museum’s one-of-a-kind collection. Efforts are already underway to install a new freight lift to safely transport large objects from the museum's existing loading dock to the basement level and second floor. Elevator doors will be installed in a second-floor gallery, allowing for easier and safer movement of large-scale objects.
The museum’s doors are currently closed as part of state-wide efforts to control the spread of COVID-19, with the organization operating online instead. When the museum building reopens, construction is expected to have little impact on visitor experience. Temporary gallery closures will be shared in advance via the museum’s website.
During this time of physical distancing, the Installation Space at 49 Eagle St. will be sharing a new installation virtually through a series of live broadcasts and streaming video on its website and social media. The installation opens with a reception streaming live to Facebook and Instagram at 6 p.m. Friday, May 29. It runs through July 5.
Nicholas Fraser's "Left Hanging" project transforms would-be love letters into meticulous shrines to longing and a monumental exercise in oversharing. He converts unanswered internet dating site messages, his failed efforts to spark a connection, into an intimate portrait whose tireless sense of hope and humor belies a weary awareness of the artificial, projected nature of these online communications. Each message is hand cut with the letters left attached and dangling. Some are warped and distorted, the stretched letters echoing the author’s initial efforts to shape the message for its intended recipient. Others are layered over images dense with competing texts. Legibility is thoroughly compromised, undermining attempts to decipher the message.
Fraser's ongoing video project "Fronts" has captured more than 2,800 storefront scenes since 2010. His quixotic goal was to collect a comprehensive video-based lexicon of signage as raw material for his own projects. Each video captures the day-to-day activities of the streetscape, documenting a wide ranging portrait of 21st century culture. Filmed mostly in New York CIty, these storefronts serve as witness to the momentous and mundane even as they too are continuously transformed. Fraser will present a mix of his finished Fronts-based videos and an edited selection of the raw footage as a continuous stream visible both online and in IS's storefront window displays.
Tuesday, May 26, marks the final week for the flushing of the city of Pittsfield’s water system. Water mains throughout the city will be flushed to remove accumulations of pipeline corrosion products. Mains will be flushed Tuesday through Friday between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 3 p.m.
The upcoming flushing for this week may be expected to affect the following areas: Cascade and Churchill streets; and West Street from Fort Hill west, including Meadow Ridge Drive, Lillybrook Road, and Westbrook Terrace.
Although flushing may cause localized discolored water and reduced service pressure conditions in and around the immediate area of flushing, appropriate measures will be taken to ensure that proper levels of treatment and disinfections are maintained in the system at all times. If customers experience discolored water, they should let the water run for a short period to clear it prior to use. If discolored water or low pressure conditions persist, contact the Water Department at 413-499-9339.
Dance show postponed
Berkshire Dance Theatre is postponing its June recital to January 2021, due to restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. In an email message to their membership, the board and co-directors wrote that decision to postpone the show is in consideration of the current seniors who will be on college break and thus will be able to participate.
The nonprofit dance education organization has been offering virtual classes to its students since it closed its three physical studios in mid-March. Typically running classes in Adams and Williamstown, Mass., as well as Bennington, Vt., it is currently running 80 percent of its classes online.
Tuition was waived for the month of April with donations encouraged to offset operating costs. Classes in May through June will be offered at half-price and are being opened up to the wider community. Anyone who is interested in taking a class is encouraged to follow BDT on Facebook or Instagram for class listings or email co-director, Becky Ahamad.
BCD virtual tours
Berkshire Country Day School is currently offering weekly virtual open houses and virtual tours for prospective families in response the COVID-19 pandemic. In planning for the reopening, the school will install video capabilities so if students must remain home for any length of time, they will be able to participate in class online. The school will also designate virtual "homeroom teachers" to students who must quarantine.
To visit Berkshire Country Day School, see the Virtual Tour, including 30 two- to three-minute views of the campus and virtual open houses are held every Thursday at 10 a.m. Visit the website. These virtual video meetings are with Head of School Jenifer Fox, admission personnel, faculty members and current BCD parents. BCD is enrolling students 2 years old through eighth grade and now offers Fair Share Tuition, making high quality and personalized education accessible to families.
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