A vintage postcard shows a scenic mill stream in Pittsfield. Image courtesy Norman Rockwell Museum

Business Briefs: Cultural sites to reopen; Berkshire Museum construction; raffle benefits food banks; Berkshire Immigrant Center fundraising; grant for Olana

BIC is the only program in Berkshire County that focuses exclusively on meeting the unique challenges of a continuously growing immigrant and refugee population.

Berkshire cultural sites plan to reopen

Berkshire County — Seven of the region’s cultural institutions — Berkshire Botanical Garden, Chesterwood, Hancock Shaker Village, Naumkeag, Norman Rockwell Museum, Tanglewood (grounds only) and the Mount — have announced their plans to welcome visitors for the summer.

“As the region slowly begins to reopen and as people seek spiritual nourishment, these properties promise to deliver what they have always offered — beauty, escape, inspiration, and creativity — perhaps needed now more than ever,” said Norman Rockwell Museum director and CEO Laurie Norton Moffatt.

Engagement and learning opportunities will be present through exhibitions, informational signage, digital apps (downloadable on personal devices), and safely distanced programs including baby animals, art and sculpture, and music.

The venues that will open have the ability to offer visitors acres of outside grounds, and are dedicated to creating fun and safe experiences while following state and federal guidelines. Each property is reopening in unique ways, inviting visitors to start outdoors. Guidance and specific instructions can be found on institutions’ individual websites.

–E.E.

*     *     *

Planned improvements at Berkshire Museum will preserve structure, protect collection

Construction begins at Berkshire Museum. Photo courtesy Berkshire Museum

Pittsfield — The Berkshire Museum has begun three capital projects that will preserve the 117-year-old museum structure and protect its collection. Improvements will include a modern sewer line, freight lift and extensive waterproofing around the building’s basement level.

The lengthiest and most visible phase of construction will be the installation of a new sewer line to replace the original pipe installed when the museum was first built in 1903. The new plumbing will connect to the sewer main located under South Street. To make way for the new sewer line, Wally, the museum’s beloved stegosaurus, was transported in April to Louis Paul Jonas Studios in New York for refurbishment. The fiberglass dinosaur will return when work on the front of the building concludes.

Over the coming months, crews will excavate around the museum’s basement level to seal the building’s foundation with a new moisture barrier. Efforts are already underway to install a new freight lift to safely transport large objects from the museum’s existing loading dock to the basement level and second floor. Elevator doors will be installed in a second-floor gallery, allowing for easier and safer movement of large-scale objects.

Allegrone Companies of Lenox is leading the project as general contractor.

–E.E.

*     *     *

Local food banks benefit from land trust raffle

New Marlborough Land Trust executive director Martha Bryan, left, presents a check for $2,285 to Suzannah van Schaick, board president of the People’s Pantry in Great Barrington. Photo courtesy New Marlborough Land Trust

New Marlborough — The New Marlborough Land Trust partnered with Berkshire Bike and Board in Great Barrington to raffle off an electric bicycle to raise money for local food banks. The raffle raised $4,570, with the People’s Pantry of Great Barrington and the Sheffield Food Assistance Program each receiving checks for $2,285.

NMLT livestreamed the raffle on Instagram. The winner, who did not want to be identified, lives in New Marlborough and bought a raffle ticket because her son said it was for a good cause. She described herself as a 65-year-old woman “with bad knees” and who was very grateful for the chance to exercise outdoors in a fun way. She received a voucher for the ebike at Berkshire Bike and Board, which added a $100 store credit. The prize has a total value of $3,050.

It took just 48 hours to sell the 1,000 raffle tickets. NMLT covered all expenses, including the ebike and state taxes. Those who attempted to buy tickets after the raffle ended were encouraged to make donations directly to the food banks.

–E.E.

*     *     *

Berkshire Immigrant Center launches fundraising campaign

Pittsfield — On Monday, June 1, the Berkshire Immigrant Center invites the community to honor the more than 10,000 immigrants in the Berkshires as it joins an annual observance of national Immigrant Heritage Month and launches a $10,000 fundraising campaign.

BIC is the only program in Berkshire County that focuses exclusively on meeting the unique challenges of a continuously growing immigrant and refugee population. Since March 20, BIC has raised more than $70,000 for a COVID-19 relief fund, through which it has helped more than 140 of its most vulnerable clients and their families pay for basic needs like rent and utilities. While 100% of emergency relief has been passed through to clients, donations to the Immigrant Heritage Month campaign help ensure that BIC can serve the local immigrant community in crisis and beyond, including helping immigrants become U.S. citizens. In this year of the U.S. Census count, BIC has also worked to make sure that immigrants are counted and that Berkshire communities thusly receive all federal aid to which they are entitled.

Tax-deductible donations of any amount are welcome online. Contributions can also be given via check made out to Berkshire Immigrant Center and mailed to BIC, 67 East St., Pittsfield MA 01201. For more information, contact Berkshire Immigrant Center at info@berkshireic.org.

–E.E.

*     *     *

Olana receives grant for Hudson River Skywalk trailhead design

The view from the Hudson River Skywalk, which links Olana State Historic Site in Hudson, N.Y., and the Thomas Cole National Historic Site across the Hudson River in Catskill, N.Y. Photo courtesy Olana State Historic Site

Hudson, N.Y. — The Olana Partnership has been awarded a $14,400 matching grant from the Environmental Protection Fund’s Park and Trail Partnership Grants program administered by Parks & Trails New York. The grant will fund the design of the trailhead for pedestrians entering Olana State Historic Site from the Hudson River Skywalk from State Route 23.

Constructed in 1869, North Road served as Olana’s main entrance from the City of Hudson until the site became a state historic site in 1966. Olana’s nationally recognized strategic landscape design plan, completed in 2015, included establishing a trailhead there, and the opening of the Hudson River Skywalk in 2019 made it the pedestrian entry point. The trailhead design will create a more visible, accessible and attractive entrance, and integrate the Hudson River Skywalk with Olana’s historic carriage road network. The Olana Partnership will manage this design project in collaboration with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation.

–E.E.