When The Aldrich was founded in 1964, the presentation of works in nature was a central part of the Museum’s earliest program. Works by artists including Anthony Caro, Alexander Liberman, Tony Smith, and Robert Grosvenor were displayed on the Museum’s campus year-round for visitors and the public to enjoy free of charge.
In 2004, The Aldrich inaugurated a new, state-of-the art $9 million Museum building with modern galleries, an education space, and climate controls. In addition, the Museum’s new building considered audience accessibility—a challenge in the original 18th century building, the Old Hundred—and installed corridors and an elevator designed for visitor ease. The new building enabled significantly more visitors to engage with the Museum’s ambitious exhibition and education programs and serves as dynamic gathering space for the community, while allowing The Aldrich to present significantly more works of art at varying scales.
Now, The Aldrich seeks to unite our entire campus by bringing the same level of thoughtful design outdoors, to our three-acre property.
Located in the heart of Ridgefield is a valuable institution for both contemporary art and public space. Not simply a sculpture garden, and not just a series of galleries, The Aldrich provides artists with the unique opportunity to present their work indoors and out. Recent exhibitions, including Frank Stella’s Stars, A Survey and 52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone, have spanned the galleries and the grounds, connecting artists work through the Museum’s galleries and into the public realm.
The Museum’s campus, which extends from Main Street to behind the 2004 building, is a unique space to experience works of contemporary art outdoors. In addition, the Museum provides a significant open space to the community of Ridgefield, bookending the town’s central corridor with Ballard Park. During the pandemic, The Aldrich saw the use of its outdoor space increase dramatically, as visitors from around the community and around the country explored works of art on view outdoors. The Museum embarked on this new Master Plan to meet the expanding needs of our audience.
While the Museum’s campus is well-utilized, The Aldrich understands the significant limitations of the site, including lack of accessible walkways, significant grade changes, and limited sightlines. The Cambridge, MA-based landscape architecture firm STIMSON was engaged and tasked with the goal of identifying the character of the site and its resources and developing a plan for its improvement. With this new plan, The Aldrich can focus its resources on creating a beautiful, universally accessible, native landscape designed for community engagement with works of art in the heart of historic Ridgefield.
STIMSON conducted workshops with Museum stakeholders to solicit guidance and input on the site design. The design team and the Board’s Sculpture Garden Committee developed a list of clear goals for the garden design:
Building STIMSON’s plan for The Aldrich would be transformative for the Museum, linking the inside of the Museum with the campus and dramatically expanding the Museum’s ability to use the three-acre site.
Most importantly, the Master Plan makes the Museum’s entire campus—and all the works of art and programs we present—accessible to the broadest audience. This dramatic change is in service of the artists whose work we support and is in the spirit of connecting their work with our community.
Based in Cambridge and Princeton, MA, STIMSON’s work is shaped by local culture, context, and ecology. Recent projects include the Hackley School, the Florence Griswold Museum, and Harvard University. They were the 2021 American Association of Landscape Architects Firm of the Year.
The Aldrich has established a $3.25 million budget to make the Master Plan a reality. This expense includes:
Generous support from the Museum’s community is necessary to bring this ambitious project—which will dramatically transform The Aldrich—to life. Should you be interested in learning more about naming opportunities or how to get involved, please contact:
203.438.4519 x 116
The Amadeo Family
Anne S. Richardson Fund
Christine and Jeff Boris
Bowes Weller Family Foundation
Roberta and Steven Denning
Eric Diefenbach and JK Brown
Michael P. and Linda M. Dugan
Fairfield County Bank
Gail and David Gluckman
Rachel and Peter Goulding
Patricia and Lawrence Kemp
Kristina and Philip Larson
Amy Pal and Kevin Manley
Lisi and Neil Marcus
Leslie and Sanjay Patel
Kirsten and Andy Pitts
The Sondheimer Family
Kathryn "KK" and Jamie Streator
List in formation
This project is funded in part by a Good to Great grant administered by the Department of Economic and Community Development and awarded by the Connecticut State Legislature.
The Master Plan was supported by generous grants from the Anne S. Richardson Fund and the Leir Foundation.