places you should go: exploring the valley!

Written by summer orientation assistant Morgana Smith 08F

CarleIn just one short week, you will be living in the Pioneer Valley, most of you for the next four years. And while Hampshire College is its own little utopia in many ways, there are lots of places beyond our little school that are worth exploring as well. Here’s a little guide to some places I thought were worth mentioning!

Museums and Galleries:

  • Mead Art Museum: The Mead is Amherst College’s art museum, free and open to the public. Right now it’s open Tuesday – Sunday from 9-5, but it has extended hours during the school year. Not only does the museum host a couple well-known favorite artists like Monet and Bouguereau, it also has some very interesting ancient artifacts, including a huge wall piece from Mesopotamia!
  • Smith College Museum of Art: As the name suggests, the Smith Art Museum is property of Smith College and located on the College’s campus. Admission is free for college students with their student ID. In addition to the exhibits, the museum also has a large print, drawing, and photograph collection that is often used for classes. Admission is free for students with an ID.
  • The Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art: Located on Hampshire’s campus, the Carle is a lovely collection of illustrative art works. In addition to a whole room dedicated to both the famous and lesser-known works of Carle himself, there are two galleries of ever-changing exhibits that exemplify the very best that illustration has to offer. Beyond the galleries there is a small reading and play room, which shelves jam-packed full of picture books of all varieties. Admission is free for Hampshire students.
  • R. Michelson Galleries: There are several galleries on Main Street in Northampton, all of which are more than worth perusing. But the R. Michelson Gallery is very special for a couple for reasons. First of all, the building used to be a bank, and inside the old bank vault is an exhibit of Leonard Nimoy’s “Shekinah” photographs. A little beyond the vault is a collection of children’s illustration artwork, including some stunning originals by the one and only Dr. Seuss!

Entertainment/Leisure:

  • Amherst Cinema: What would a college town be without at least one “art” theatre? Amherst Cinemas screens many old classics, foreign wonders, and (my favorite) new Studio Ghibli films! The theatre is spacious, the movies are sure winners, and the business is local. Screenings and events are posted here.
  • Magic Wings Butterfly Conservatory: For a slightly more active leisure activity, one might consider Magic Wings. It’s been many years since I went to the Conservatory (I actually visited LONG before I was even thinking about college, around the age of 12), but I distinctly recall being amazed once I set foot inside. The butterflies and moths are left to roam and flit about as they please, touching down on lush, tropical vegetation. This is a must-see for any nature lover.
  • The Fine Arts Center at UMass: For those of you looking for an evening of cultured performance art, the Fine Arts Center might be just the place to look! Students can get discounted tickets for a variety of shows; in the past, the FAC has hosted Pilobilus Dance Troupe, Cirque du Soleil, and the National Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China, among others. They currently have a jazz series and an Asian Arts & Culture program in their lineup. For more information on upcoming shows, check out the calendar on their website.
  • The Iron Horse Music Hall/The Calvin Theatre/The Pearl Street Nightclub: All property of the Iron Horse Entertainment group, these three venues mark the impressive musical history of Northampton. Located in a sort of topographical triangle within walking distance of each other, each venue continues to host both established and up-and-coming talents all the time. The Calvin is perhaps the most obvious and prominent of the three, being located on Pleasant Street, and its marquee gives passersby the details on what’s coming. For a full schedule for all three halls, check out the schedule on their website.

There is certainly no way that I’ve covered all of the many activities in the surrounding area. Aside from these, there are myriad restaurants, coffee shops, local businesses, and parks to while away some free time. For trips a little further afield, both Boston and New York City are within driving, busing, or train-going distance.

So remember, even though Hampshire is a beautiful, exciting place to be, it’s important to get out into the world and explore the many possibilities in the Pioneer Valley!

Have questions? Want more information? Email us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu. We’re happy to help!

places you should go: favorite campus hangouts!

Written by summer orientation assistant Morgana Smith 08F

There are few things more beautiful to me than Hampshire College in the autumn; our somewhat stark-looking, late-60s buildings are offset by fiery leaves and twining ivy, and it’s just cool enough to wear a light sweater and sip tea outside. This is a perfect time to start the school year, and the perfect time to allow new students to discover some of my personal favorite spots on campus.

The Hampshire Tree: Set back in a field, you can only get to this tree by a small jaunt along a wooded path, and then a subsequent scuttle through felled rows of corn. I was taken here my first year by an older student, but then found myself coming back at times when I needed to be alone with my thoughts. I never had an easy time navigating the Hampshire woods, so the Tree remained my own little slice of nature that was relatively quick to find.

KissinLlamasThe Farm: In October, there is the annual Fall Farm Fest, where the folks who work down at the farm press apples into cider, sell kettle corn and our own Hampshire honey, host live music (performed by Hampshire students), and bring out some of the animals – llamas, sheep, cows, chickens. But outside of the festivities, the Farm is another wonderful place to walk around at any time of year, and a great place to take visiting guests! The llama is particularly fun to hang out with.

The Goodread Library: This is a little gem of a place that I didn’t discover until much later in my career as a student – a library based entirely on the honor system (take a book, read it, bring it back for someone else) and located in the middle of Greenwich Donut 1. Though there is some foot traffic as people go to and from their mods, this is a relatively quiet space, ideal for getting some writing or reading done. Besides, it’s lots of fun to browse through the titles and find books you never knew existed! (By the way, the bookshelves in the Merrill and Dakin Living Rooms work on the same system – there are lots of books to be found on this campus!)

The Greenwich Swing: Not too far from the Goodread is an unassuming swing. It’s another lovely place to sit and contemplate or do some reading (apparently, I led an extremely introspective life as a student). It’s probably worth mentioning that there’s a Dakin Swing, as well as a few others around campus.

DivIII Studio 1The Arts Barn: While it’s easily not the most beautiful building on campus, the Arts Barn is very much a second home to me. Since many of my classes after first year were arts-related and my advisor was a sculpture professor, I spent a lot of time here. I even had a studio during my Div III! Whenever I come back, I know it’s a place where I’m welcome and where there will be people I know. It’s a lot of fun to walk through and see what students are working on, and I always recommend that folks take an art class at some point, even if that’s not what they’re interested in studying. In my experience, our art classes are engaging and fun, and students are never made to feel as though they need to live up to some artistic ideal. Right outside the Arts Barn is the Graffiti Wall, which is constantly changing as students create art pieces on top of each other in perpetuity.

To be honest, there are very few spots on campus I don’t like, but I could talk about Hampshire all day. I know that some of you will find these places and love them as well, but I also hope that you find other places that are meaningful to you, places where you can study, relax, hang out with friends, have a meal, create something, or just get lost in thought.

Have questions? Want more information? Contact us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu. We’re happy to help!

eight great reasons to visit the prescott tavern!

Haven’t been to the Prescott Tavern? Wondering what’s there? The Prescott Tavern offers a combination late-night study and recreational space with activities such as foosball, pool, and board games all week long. Bring your own mug and buy a cup of organic coffee, tea, or cocoa for only 50¢. Assorted snacks are also available for purchase to satisfy your sweet or salty craving at midnight. The tavern is also home to the TavernArt gallery, a fabulous student gallery on campus. If you’re interested in exhibiting your work, email the coordinators at tavernart@hampshire.edu.

Still not convinced? Check out these eight great reasons to visit the Prescott Tavern!
(click on the image below for a better view)

Eight Great Reasons

Still have questions? Need more information? Email us at newtohamp@hampshire.edu. We’re happy to help!