Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute Collection

Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute

Steinway & Sons, Model D Pianoforte, No. 54538, 1884. Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute

The Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute houses a permanent collection of over 8,000 works, focusing almost exclusively on European and American painting, sculpture, works on paper, and decorative arts from the Renaissance to the early 20th century. While best known for works by French Impressionists, especially Renoir, the collection also boasts strengths in Italian Renaissance paintings, English silver, European porcelain, and master drawings and prints. Selections from the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute's collections are represented in Artstor with over 4,400 images, mainly works on paper, as well as paintings and decorative arts.  

In 1950, Sterling and Francine Clark chartered the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute as a home for their extensive collection of paintings, silver, sculpture, porcelain, drawings, and prints. Because of strong familial ties to Williams College, the Clarks chose a site in Williamstown, MA within walking distance of the college, as the location for their new museum. Since it opened to public in 1955, the Institute has had a dual mission as both a museum and a center for research and higher education. Building upon the nucleus of the Clarks' collection, the Institute has greatly expanded its holdings, such that their scope and character continue to represent the taste and interests of its founders. Thus, while the Institute continues to acquire in its traditional fields of strength, it has also begun to collect in complementary fields, such as its growing collection of early European and American photography. As the collections have grown, the Institute has had to expand physically. In 2001, the Institute announced a master plan to preserve and further develop its 140 acre campus. The architect Tadao Ando and landscape architecture firm Reed Hilderbrand will oversee the expansion of the museum's exhibition spaces, as well as the construction of gardens, picnic areas, and bike trails.  

In 1964, after purchasing several important archives, the Institute opened its library to the public. It is now one of the largest art research libraries in the United States, containing approximately 200,000 books, bound periodicals, and auction sales catalogs, with strengths in the fields of Italian and Northern Renaissance, Baroque, and French 19th century art. In cooperation with Williams College, the Institute also offers a two-year graduate program in Art History. Housed at the Institute, the graduate program draws upon the rich resources of the Institute's art and library collections, as well as the Williamstown Art Conservation Center. In addition to its other research and academic programs, the Institute also administers the Clark Fellowship Program. Between 15-20 Clark fellowships are awarded each year, offering scholars and museum professionals a stipend and housing as they complete research projects related to the visual arts and their role in culture.