History

Hands-on Art-making in the Berkshires Since 1991

IS183 Art School is the leading provider of high quality, hands-on instruction in the visual arts year-round at sites throughout Berkshire County.

Founded in 1991 as a place where “people who love art, regardless of age or ability, can gather to experience creative expression,” IS183 has evolved to reach over 2,500 students each year through studio-based classes, artistic events, and out-of-school engagement programs.

IS183’s Learning Through Arts program, launched in 2007, brings the studio art experience directly to the desks of our county’s K-12th grade students. IS183’s classes provide opportunities for our community to feel what it’s like to create the art seen in our local museums, to connect with local artists, and to be empowered to make something with their own hands.

Why IS183?

In February 2002, we changed our name from the Interlaken School of Art to IS183, Art School of the Berkshires (required to do so because of a legal challenge posed by the similarly named Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan). The "IS" pays homage to our former name and to the village of Interlaken where our main studios and offices are based, and the "183" references Route 183, the main road closest to the school. More importantly, the committee that chose the new name felt it conveyed a community spirit, echoing the names of urban public schools and innovative public art centers located in former schools (like us!) such as PS122 in NYC's East Village. This new name — like our students, faculty, and friends — is creative, unexpected, and innovative: qualities that embody artmaking at its best!

Citizens' Hall

IS183's home base is Citizens' Hall in Stockbridge, a historic Second Empire building designed in 1870 by Charles T. Rathburn to serve as a district schoolhouse on the first floor with a large public meeting hall on the second floor. After district schools were consolidated, Citizens’ Hall continued to be used as a meeting place, but with decreasing frequency. Old Curtisville, Inc. was organized as a community group to preserve and restore the building, and was instrumental in obtaining a grant from the Massachusetts Historical Commission for critical repairs in 1975.

For its first 14 years, IS183 Art School leased space in historic Citizens’ Hall. In 2005 we merged with the building's previous owner, Old Curtisville, Inc., and now the school owns the building outright. After acquiring title to Citizens’ Hall in June 2005, IS183 Art School immediately embarked on our “Home At Last” campaign; a four-phase program of capital repairs and improvements to address the widespread effects of deferred maintenance on the building. Exterior repairs were completed in May 2009.

The iconic building now houses IS183's offices and art studios. The school is conveniently located just a few miles past Tanglewood, just off Route 183. Get directions.