The film is playing exclusively on Kino Lorber’s virtual cinemas platform, Kino Marquee, starting on Dec. 4. It will be made available on other digital platforms, cable and streaming services in the coming months.
“Museum Town” tells the story of the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art — an unconventional museum in the small town of North Adams, Mass — and the power of art to transform a barren post-industrial city. Jennifer Trainer, a former journalist and one of the original builders of Mass MoCA, directed the documentary. The film had its world premiere at this year’s South by Southwest Film Festival.
“‘Museum Town’ demonstrates that art can be a path to economic recovery, but it’s also a story about risk,” Trainer said. “In 1986, when as a journalist I first learned about the idea for Mass MoCA (and then signed on for the next three decades to test the feasibility of the idea and help build the museum), I thought it probably had a snowball’s chance in hell of succeeding. But it was worth the fight.”
Mass MoCA is currently the largest contemporary art museum in the world, but few would have predicted that success three decades ago when its brick buildings were the abandoned relics of a shuttered factory.
“At the end of day, it’s a story about ordinary people meeting extraordinary challenges. How Mass MoCA came to be is such a crazy story — one so preposterous that if you didn’t witness it, you might not actually believe it could be true — that I knew the story had to be told. And that I was the one to tell it.”
The documentary also features the artist Nick Cave as he builds an instillation titled “Until,” which reflects gun violence, race and the American Dream.
Along with Cave, the film spotlights interviews with notable artists like David Byrne, James Turrell and Laurie Anderson. “Museum Town” has original music from John Stirratt of Wilco and features songs by Talking Heads, Sharon Jones and Big Thief.
“Celebrating the arts is central to our mission as an independent arthouse distributor,” said Kino Lorber president and CEO Richard Lorber. “‘Museum Town’ engages a local community in a conversation about the role and relevance of the arts in our wider culture and the economic development of our country as a whole. It’s that kind of rare film that shows how an art institution has the power to transform.”
“Museum Town” was executive produced by Rachel Chanoff, and Jack and Susy Wadsworth. Noah Bashevkin, Jennifer Trainer and Ivy Meeropol served as producers.