The Clark Art Institute Reports Record-Breaking Attendance

The van Gogh exhibition attracted the most visitors the museum has ever seen.

Vincent van Gogh, Harvest or Harvest at La Crau, with Montmajour in the Background (1888). Photo: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.
Vincent van Gogh, Harvest or Harvest at La Crau, with Montmajour in the Background (1888). Photo: Van Gogh Museum, Amsterdam.

One hundred and twenty-five years after his death, Vincent van Gogh’s paintings are breaking records at auction and in museums. The Clark Art Institute in Williamstown, Massachusetts has experienced an unprecedented amount of visitors for their summer exhibitions “Van Gogh and Nature” and “Whistler’s Mother: Grey, Black, and White.”

Over 170,000 people made the trip to the private museum in the Berkshires, which Sterling and Francine Clark founded in 1950 to house their extensive art collection. “This has been an exceptional summer for the Clark and for the Berkshires,” said Frank Oakley, interim director of the Institute, in a statement.

Architecture meets art meets nature at the newly expanded Clark Art Institute.

The Clark Art Institute.

The exhibition of the Dutch master featured 49 oil on canvas works, as well as pen and ink drawings, from 1881 to 1890. Landscapes featuring Arles, Provence, and Saint Rémy—where van Gogh resided in a mental hospital—reveal rich details and the artist’s appreciation of impasto.

The show received glowing reviews from the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, among other publications; the Journal described the show as “an extraordinary, surprisingly original and deftly handled exhibit.”

Attendance numbers not only boosted sales for retail and food services at the space, but the institute also estimated the exhibition had a positive economic impact in Berkshire County, where the museum is located. Businesses and commercial ventures in the area earned approximately $15 million more than in a typical summer season.

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