The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum

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Important Update

Campaign for the Sculpture Garden

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.

Make a Donation here.

Read the booklet for the Campaign for the Sculpture Garden here.

Aerial view of the plans for The Aldrich's updated Sculpture Garden

Landscape Master Plan for The Aldrich

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.

Design Process

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:

  • Accessibility and inclusion for all
  • Expand the platform for artists with flexibility for exhibitions, events, programming, and community use
  • Environmental stewardship

Making the Master Plan a Reality

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.

  • The Master Plan will make approximately 50% more space available to artists and the community. The Aldrich is currently limited when installing work outdoors, as sculptures need to be able to be experienced from a distance or accessible via a short walk on grass from the building. New spaces in the Garden, linked by accessible pathways, including the Secret Garden, Pollinator Pathway, and Boardwalk, significantly expand the number of sites where works of art can be installed and enjoyed, expanding what artists are able to realize at The Aldrich.
  • The Amphitheater adds an entirely new programmatic space to the Museum, providing a natural venue for The Aldrich’s presentation of dance, music, and community programs. The Amphitheater also provides a natural gathering place for visitors and adds seating to the Garden, something that is currently lacking.
  • Because of significant grade changes, a large portion of the campus is currently entirely inaccessible and thus is completely unused by the Museum. The Master Plan’s circular pathway will allow visitors to walk or utilize a wheelchair from Main Street around the entirety of the campus, giving visitors a significantly expanded opportunity to explore the site.
  • Environmental stewardship is a priority for the Museum and the Master Plan, and remediation of invasive species, storm water management, and planting native species, are key features of the project, which will improve biodiversity and the site’s overall health.

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.

About the Architects

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.

Estimated Budget

The Aldrich has established a $3.25 million budget to make the Master Plan a reality. This expense includes:

  • Extensive demolition and construction
  • Removal of invasive species
  • Planting of trees, bushes, and perennials throughout
  • Furniture
  • Wayfinding signage
  • Legal and town permit fees

Get Involved

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:

Cybele Maylone
Executive Director
cmaylone@thealdrich.org
203.438.4519 x 116

Supporters

The Amadeo Family
Anne S. Richardson Fund
Bafflin Foundation
Christine and Jeff Boris
Bowes Weller Family Foundation
Melinda and Brian Carroll
Wear Culvahouse and Douglas Graneto
Roberta and Steven Denning
Eric Diefenbach and JK Brown
Anita and Nick Donofrio
Michael P. and Linda M. Dugan
Fairfield County Bank
Carol and Dave Foster
Gail and David Gluckman
The Goldstone Family Foundation
Rachel and Peter Goulding
Patricia and Lawrence Kemp
Kristina and Philip Larson
Amy Pal and Kevin Manley
Neil and Lisi Marcus
Miriam G. Martinez and Roger Restaino
Glori and Adam Norwitt
Leslie and Sanjay Patel
Julie Phillips
Kirsten and Andy Pitts
The Sondheimer Family
Sabina and Harlan Stone
Kathryn "KK" and Jamie Streator
Jim Torrey
Vaughn Williams

List in formation

This project is funded in part by a State of Connecticut Urban Act Grant and 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.


Related News

Sculpture Garden Groundbreaking on February 26

On February 26, 2024 The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum hosted a groundbreaking ceremony to inaugurate the commencement of its Campus and Sculpture Garden Renovation Project, slated to be completed Fall 2024.