• Conceptual artist Natalie Jeremijenko and Nancy Kelly

    Conceptual artist Natalie Jeremijenko and Nancy Kelly

The Film

What happens when the smallest, poorest town in Massachusetts teams up with art world luminaries to build a modern art museum? Can big city conceptual artists and blue-collar natives find common ground and a common cause? That’s what filmmaker Nancy Kelly investigates in Downside Up, which captures the beginnings of America’s largest museum of contemporary art, MASS MoCA (the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art) and the rebirth of its host city, North Adams, Massachusetts.

Through the eyes of North Adams native Kelly and her family, most of whom worked in the former capacitor factory that now houses the museum, the film explores the subtle changes in the spirit of a town that — like hundreds of former factory towns across the country — had been given up for dead. Exploring the tentative, dangerous notion of hope in a town that was widely viewed as hopeless, Downside Up is the story of seemingly disparate people reaching across the prickly fence of class divisions to work together for a common good.

The Filmmaker

  1. Nancy M. KellyProducer