Berkshire Museum Tom Patti Commission 2

About the 2013 Berkshire Award Recipients

Crane Family
The Crane family has owned and managed Crane & Co. Inc. in Dalton, Massachusetts, since it was founded in 1801, manufacturing fine paper for stationery and currency. Zenas Crane (1840-1917), grandson and namesake of the firm’s founder, was a successful businessman and generous philanthropist. In 1900 he founded the Pittsfield Boys’ Club (now the Boys’ and Girls’ Club). In 1903 he founded the Berkshire Museum; Crane commissioned the architects, funded the construction, and purchased many of the objects that are still in the Museum’s permanent collections. In 1909 he was a major sponsor of Admiral Robert E. Peary’s expedition to the North Pole. Crane made donations to many other organizations and colleges in the Berkshires and around the United States.

After he passed away in 1917, his family continued his legacy of philanthropy, including active support of the Museum. In 1931, Z. Marshall Crane and his mother Ellen Crane gave a significant gift to the Museum, sufficient for increasing the staff, including the hiring of Laura Bragg, the Museum’s first director. In 1937, the Theater and the Crane Room were added to the Museum building, dedicated to the memory of Ellen Crane.

The Crane family’s philanthropic activities have included the founding of the Pittsfield Community Music School (now the Berkshire Music School) by Winnie Davis Long Crane in 1940. The Zenas Crane Fund for Student Aid was established in 1926 to help students from Dalton and surrounding towns achieve a college education. The fund continues to support students and is now administered by the Berkshire Taconic Community Foundation.

To learn more about the Crane family, Crane & Co. and the Crane Museum of Papermaking, visit

Sandra Newman, Community Access to the Arts (CATA)
Sandra Newman is the founder and executive director of Community Access to the Arts, the Great Barrington-based organization that nurtures and celebrates the creativity of people with disabilities through shared experiences in the visual and performing arts. While working as a clinician and dance therapist at the Columbia County Mental Health Association, Sandra was inspired by the impact of cultural experiences on her clients. In 1993, CATA was created when Sandra took women with developmental disabilities to the Interlaken School of Art (now known as IS183) for a series of weaving workshops.

In 1997, CATA operations moved into a studio/gallery space in downtown Great Barrington. By 2000, CATA was offering 500 workshops annually, and by 2003, CATA had grown to a full-time staff of five. By 2006, CATA offered 1,000 workshops every year, and currently, CATA provides services to 600 people with disabilities employing eight staff members as well as nearly 20 faculty artists.

To learn more about Sandra Newman and CATA, visit

Thom Smith
Thom Smith, naturalist, educator, curator, writer and photographer, began his long association with the Berkshire Museum as a student in the Children’s Department, under Miss Frances E. Palmer’s tutelage in the 1950s. Hired to replace Palmer upon her retirement in 1961, Thom’s leadership included expanding the Museum’s natural history program offerings for children. Early on he began developing a live animal display, and in 1970 unveiled a seven tank aquarium. He created the first touch tank in 1973. The present aquarium opened in February of 1986 with five large salt- and fresh-water tanks opposite a vivarium containing snakes, turtles, lizards, plants and more. In 1995, a Touch the Sea hands-on exhibit displaying New England tidal pool creatures was added. Thom was an early leader in environmental programming in the Berkshires and numerous members of the community credit participating in his Junior Naturalist program as their introduction to nature. Thom ended his Museum career when he retired as the curator of natural science and aquarium director in 2007 after 46 years of service. Over the years Thom was widely known as a naturalist and the go-to person in the community for queries about nature and wildlife in the Berkshires, answering questions from the public during his Museum tenure and as a columnist for the Berkshire Eagle since 1978. Thom’s column continues to be featured in every Friday’s Eagle.

To read some of Thom Smith’s articles and writings, visit

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Videos produced by James Sylvia of West Tenth Media