2020 Oct 08

Bruce Museum Expansion Breaks Ground

The 43,000-square-foot addition will more than double the size of the Bruce Museum, adding state-of-the-art exhibition, education, and community spaces, including a restaurant and auditorium.

On Thursday, October 8, the Bruce Museum of Greenwich, Connecticut, broke ground on a transformative renovation and expansion project: a three-story, 43,000-square-foot addition that will more than double the size of the Museum, adding state-of-the-art exhibition galleries for art and science and new education and community spaces, including a restaurant and auditorium. The New Bruce Campaign Committee, Museum leadership, and staff celebrated this milestone achievement by hosting a virtual and in-person “shovel-in-the-ground” ceremony. The Grand Opening of the New Bruce is anticipated for the fall of 2022.

Reed Hilderbrand is the landscape architect for the project and renewal of the wider Bruce campus. We partnered with architect EskewDumezRipple during the 2013-2014 design competition for the expansion. The new building addition will open directly onto Bruce Park and feature a delicate striated façade of cast stone and glass inspired by the surfaces of Connecticut’s quarries and the rock outcrops of Bruce Park. Turner Construction Co. is the lead contractor for the renovation and construction project. The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Education Wing will be located in the current Museum building and will be completely renovated to include new classrooms, with space dedicated to interactive learning quadrupling its size. The Education Wing will have its own dedicated entrance, enabling the Museum to accommodate greater numbers of students per day in grades K-12 and beyond, increasing the yearly visits by students to 50,000, many from nearby underserved communities.

“Our work will amplify this inspiring landscape’s character — undulating topography, impressive rock outcroppings, mature canopy trees — while also embedding within it an expanded visitor experience for the Bruce,” said Senior Associate Stephanie Pierce of Reed Hilderbrand. “A new courtyard at the center of the Great Hall frames for visitors the essential character of Connecticut’s coastal landscape and its vegetation. A multi-purpose entry plaza is a venue for exterior events and a seating area for the new Museum café. A new pedestrian walkway draws visitors through the site and encourages an appreciation for those unique natural features and an expanded exterior art collection. The landscape serves also to re-orient the Museum relative to the surrounding parkland and the wider Greenwich community.”

“This is an incredibly exciting moment for Greenwich and its hometown Museum, and for the entire Fairfield-Westchester region,” says Robert Wolterstorff, The Susan E. Lynch Executive Director. “I know I speak for our family of staff, members, volunteers, and Trustees in expressing our profound gratitude to the community for their support, which has come as monetary gifts, as well as donations of treasured art and science objects. Their support indicates not only what the Museum means to our neighbors and friends, but also shows that they share our dream for a more active Bruce, that will serve this community even better in the future. It will be our great pleasure to open the doors of the New Bruce in 2022 for the benefit of the community that has loved the Museum over its 100+ years of existence.”

A scale model of the New Bruce, showing the integration of the new addition with the current Museum building, is on display in the Museum lobby.

The new addition will feature the William L. Richter Art Wing, including vastly expanded accommodations for changing art exhibitions and significant space to show the Museum’s permanent art collection in four new galleries. The entire ground floor of the new addition will be free and open to the public during Museum operating hours and available for special-event use by local community groups, families, and businesses. In another first for the Museum, a welcoming restaurant will offer both indoor and outside dining. The popular Museum Store will greatly increase in size. An auditorium, equipped with state-of-the-art audio-visual systems, will host audiences of 250 – more than double the capacity of the Museum’s current lecture gallery. The project also includes updated storage areas for its growing collection of 25,000 works of art,natural history specimens, and scientific objects and artifacts, and a new study room to welcome visiting researchers to explore the collections.

The transformative project to reimagine the Bruce has been proceeding in phases. A top-to-bottom renovation of the Museum’s changing gallery spaces, begun in September 2019, was completed on budget and on time and opened to the public on February 1, 2020. Currently hosting major new exhibitions of art and science, it will become the Museum’s new Science Wing after the addition comes online in 2022.

Sketch courtesy of John Grove

The Museum’s current main gallery space will be dedicated to showcasing temporary science exhibitions of greater depth and scale than ever before. The new Robert R. Wiener Mineral Gallery will display an amazing collection of minerals and provide a natural transition between the new art galleries and the marvels of science to be on view in the thoroughly renovated existing building.

Since its launch in 2014, the Campaign for the New Bruce has received donations from more than 330 individuals, businesses, and foundations. This includes 100% support from members of the Museum’s renowned Docent program, as well as full support from the Museum’s professional staff. In addition to their tens of millions dollars of previous gifts, the Museum’s Board of Trustees is poised to complete a separate, $1 million fundraising initiative to underwrite one of the new classrooms in the Education Wing.

The New Bruce Campaign Committee is led by Museum Trustees John Ippolito and Heidi Brake Smith and past Trustee and Museum Council Co-Chair Susan V. Mahoney. To learn more about the Campaign for the New Bruce and to participate, please visit NewBruce.org or contact Whitney Lucas Rosenberg, Director of Development and Institutional Advancement, at 203-413-6765 or wrosenberg@brucemuseum.org, or Barbara Tavrow, Campaign Director, at 203-249-8225 or btavrow@bjtavrowconsulting.com.