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MASS MoCA Timeline

The Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, MASS MoCA, with its enormous unobstructed indoor spaces, irregular courtyards, elevated walkways, towers, and industrial buildings, presents a tremendous platform for the art of our time, accommodating works that have seldom, or never, been exhibited because of size, materials, or complex technological requirements.

MASS MoCA's history is an interesting series of developments, which span over 150 years. The following timeline was put together with the assistance of the North Adams Historical Society, MASS MoCA, and Mother Lode Productions' staff.

1860 3 Arnold brothers buy a portion of the site in the fork of the Hoosac and the Hoosatonic Rivers in North Adams, MA and set up print works as O. Arnold and Company.
1861 Arnold Print Works built.
1862 Arnold Print Works begins operations.
1870 Arnold Print Works employs 100 people.
12/27/1871 Devastating fire.
1876 O. Arnold and Company buys more land.
1890 All buildings (excepting one) in todayís complex are built.
1905 Arnold Print Works employs 3,200.
1926 Sprague Electric begins operations.
1942 Arnold Print Work closes Marshall Street operation.


Arnold Print Works closes/Sprague Electric moves into large building complex.
1966 Sprague Electric employs 4,137 employees.
1970 Bitter strike at Sprague 1981 Sprague sold to Penn Central Corporation.
1985 Sprague renamed American Annuity Group.
1985 Sprague Electric closes Marshall Street plant. Building placed on National Register of Historic Places as Arnold Print Works.
1986 Sprague Electric moves to Curran Highway.
Feb 1986 Tom Krens, Director of the Williams College Museum of Art, meets with North Adams Mayor John Barrett. Krens is looking for large empty industrial space to display large works of contemporary art.
1985 MA Governor Michael Dukakis is approached about MASS MoCA concept.
5/29/87 Williams College releaes master plan for the conversion of the Sprague Electric Marshall Street complex into a $72 million contemporary art museum and conference center.
9/14/87 Sprague sign removed.
1988 State legislature approves $35 million bond issue.
1989 Governor William Weld signs bill to kill MASS MoCA.
6/10/91 MoCA local fundraising drive surpasses $1 million.
9/28/1991 Weld releases $680,000 planning grant.
12/2/93 MASS MoCA Board adopts plan for multimedia arts center including Jacobís Pillow.
12/31/93 Weld officially supports Phase 1 (A) of MASS MoCA.
5/94 Governor Weld releases first funds for MASS MoCA.
9/8/94 MASS MoCA signs lease agreement with first tenant (Kleiser-Walczak Construction Company).
4/25/1995 State approves MASS MoCA bill.
5/30/99 MASS MoCA opens.


Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA)
87 Marshall Street
North Adams, Massachusetts 01247Tel: 413/664-4481
Fax: 413/663-8548