Mike and I recently spent a Saturday in Williamstown, Massachusetts, a small, college town that's only 45 miles from our home in Albany. What drew us to Williamstown was the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, home of an excellent collection of European and American painting, sculpture, drawings, and decorative art from the Renaissance through the early 20th century.
Unfortunately, the museum is under renovation so only a small portion is currently open to the public. Three rooms of paintings, sculpture, and decorative items are on display at the Stone Hill Center, another building on the Clark Institute property (you have to drive past the main buildings and keep going up the hill where you will find the Center). However, even those three rooms showcased the excellence of this collection. From Renaissance paintings to works by Monet and Renoir, the collection includes a wide swath of European artists. American artists include John Singer Sargent, Frederic Remington, George Inness, and Mary Stevenson Cassatt. I look forward to visiting the Clark Institute again when the renovations are complete, after July 4. More information can be found at: http://www.clarkart.edu/.
The Williams College Museum of Art is also worth a visit. Current exhibitions include paintings and drawings by Monika Baer, a contemporary Berlin artist; and photography by Zanele Muholi, a South African photographer documenting the LGBT community in South Africa and other African countries. The permanent collection includes a few Greek, Roman, and Egyptian artifacts, as well as two large Assyrian wall panels. The Williams College Museum of Art is free and open to the public. More information can be found at: http://wcma.williams.edu/.
Williamstown also has an excellent independent book store. Water Street Books presents an attractive and comfortable atmosphere for browsing either the latest fiction or stimulating non-fiction. It has an inviting children's section, and also serves as the Williams College book store, so you can find school supplies, textbooks, and Williams College apparel there as well.
Mike and I are fond of antique stores, so we were happy to see an antique store in a small shopping center called "Shops at the Library". They have a nice collection of art deco bookends, although the price ranges were not in our ballpark ($350-$850). We're more in the under $30 range! More information can be found at: http://www.shopsatthelibrary.com/.
Finally, we stopped at the Sushi Thai Garden Restaurant and had a great lunch. Mike had a sushi lunch box, and I had my old standby: pad thai. Very nice! Check them out at: http://www.sushithaigarden.com/.
All in all, a great Saturday!