July 6, 2017

The Patina Behind the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art

  • By: Meghan White
The exterior of the entrance building at MASS MoCA

photo by: Rebecca Siegel/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

With the unveiling of Building 6 in 2017, the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA) has become one of the largest contemporary art museums in the country. A grand total of 250,000 square feet of gallery space provides ample room for larger-than-life art installations, sculptures, and performing arts shows, all within 19th-century brick industrial buildings with original wood floors, giant windows, and tall ceilings.

Since its opening 20 years ago, the museum has brought thousands of artists and tourists to North Adams, a small town in Massachusetts whose economy and population boomed in the 19th century due to increased industrialization in the area. Though the town's reliance on industry has since waned, sturdy (and historic) industrial buildings remain an important part of North Adams' building fabric and provided the perfect venue for MASS MoCA.

We brought you a first look into the museum in Preservation magazine's 2017 Summer issue. Here, we've rounded up additional photographs that show just how well historic preservation and modern art work together.

Meghan White is a historic preservationist and an assistant editor for Preservation magazine. She has a penchant for historic stables, absorbing stories of the past, and one day rehabilitating a Charleston single house.


From the places listed in the Green Book to the homes of icons like Nina Simone and Pauli Murray, join us in protecting and restoring places where significant African American history happened.

Take the Pledge

Join today to help save places that matter.

Join Now