Soon, the “New Bruce” will rise from the ground.
Following the recent success of its ongoing, community-wide fundraising effort, leaders of the Campaign for the New Bruce have announced that construction will begin in October on the centerpiece of the Bruce Museum’s 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 will celebrate this milestone achievement by hosting a “shovel-in-the-ground” ceremony on Thursday, October 8, 2020 at 10:00 am. In keeping with local and state COVID-19 guidelines, the invitation-only event for major donors and other key stakeholders and supporters will be conducted in accordance with current capacity limits, social-distancing measures, and health-safety protocols. For details about viewing the Groundbreaking Celebration online, please visit brucemuseum.org or call 203-869-0376.
The Grand Opening of the New Bruce is anticipated for the fall of 2022. In the meantime, the Museum will remain open to the public for all but the final few months to allow for the finish of the building interior and installation of the galleries. When the Museum re-opens, the New Bruce will feature greatly expanded gallery spaces to host temporary exhibitions of art, newly donated collections, and, for the first time ever, installations of art from the Museum’s permanent collection. Space for temporary and permanent exhibitions of science will triple in size.
“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.”
“I would also like to thank all our generous donors for sharing our vision of creating an exciting and beautiful New Bruce for Greenwich and the greater Fairfield and Westchester County communities,” adds James B. Lockhart III, Chair of the Bruce. “And our gratitude as well to Robert and his team, the New Bruce Campaign Committee, and all our Trustees – past, present, and Honorary. The Campaign will continue to raise funds for future phases of the New Bruce expansion and the Museum’s Endowment, to operate the dramatically expanded educational programs, vibrant community spaces, and enhanced exhibitions for art and science.”
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.
Designed by the award-winning New Orleans firm of EskewDumezRipple, 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. Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architects is creating a natural environment around the New Bruce that includes a sculpture trail and places to stroll and play. 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.
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 on line in 2022.
The reinvention of the Museum’s permanent science galleries began on February 3. Scheduled to open in late 2021, the entirely new Natural Cycles Shape Our Land exhibition will present a multi-sensory expedition through the region’s rich natural history and address critical issues in science today, with new interactives throughout, a refurbished diorama, and displays that include a full-scale model dinosaur and live animals. For a virtual tour of these gallery spaces, please visit NewBruceScience.org.
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.