Officials in Connecticut announced last week that the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum will renovate its 3-acre campus and sculpture garden. The project is part of the museum’s master plan to improve accessibility and inclusion around its campus; to expand its network of artists with new exhibitions, events, programming, and community uses; and promote environmental stewardship.
The master plan was designed by STIMSON, a Cambridge, Massachusetts firm. Recently, STIMSON completed works at the Florence Griswold Museum, Hackley School, Brown University, and several private commissions throughout New England. In 2021, STIMSON was named firm of the year by the American Society of Landscape Architects. STIMSON’s master plan will provide 50 percent more space for artists and the community, including a new secret garden, pollinator pathway, and boardwalk.
“Since the Museum’s founding, the Sculpture Garden has been an essential part of the Museum experience,” said Cybele Maylone, the Aldrick Contemporary Art Museum’s executive director. “With this project, The Aldrich will dramatically improve our campus, providing a better experience for artists and for Museum’s entire community.”
Since 1964, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, in Ridgefield, Connecticut, has showcased public art in both its galleries and sculpture garden that is free to the public seven days a week, from dawn until dusk. The improvements at the campus will improve accessibility and pedestrian pathways between the art institution and Main Street. Prominent upgrades will include a new ADA ramp between the museum’s building and the sculpture garden, and new amphitheater seating. New infrastructure will be added to improve storm water management and wetland health. The museum will also add approximately 40 new trees to the property.
“Art out in the world is seen by visitors on their terms under an open sky for free,” said Amy Smith-Stewart, chief curator. “The museum has a long history of showing public art on its campus. Our new and improved grounds will provide better accessibility to more communities while also enhancing visitor experience through the creation of pathways, seating, and green areas for education, exploration, and collective participation that improves well-being and advances equity.”
“With additional spaces to exhibit outdoor work and an amphitheater to increase interdisciplinary programming, artists will have greater opportunities to grow and broaden their vision while reaching a larger more diverse audience,” Smith-Steward continued. “With more for visitors to encounter and more space for artists to create, our campus will become a more inclusive, imaginative, and holistic place for art, community, and nature to be together.”
Museum officials estimate that $3.25 million is needed for the project. This spring, the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum was awarded a $500,000 ‘Good to Great’ grant from the state of Connecticut to get the ball rolling. The museum will launch a public fundraising campaign in the next few months to finance the project.
Construction at the campus will begin in fall 2024.