Mission and History

Mission Statement

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum advances creative thinking by connecting today’s artists with individuals and communities in unexpected and stimulating ways.

Larry Aldrich

Larry Aldrich

Larry Aldrich was born in Manhattan on June 13, 1906, and made his mark as a successful fashion designer and art collector with an endless passion for the new and interesting. Beginning with the purchases of a Renoir and a Utrillo in the early 1940s, Mr. Aldrich's passion for collecting art soon moved from Impressionist and Expressionist masters to contemporary art, which eventually captured his complete attention. As the New York art scene rapidly expanded, Mr. Aldrich's funding enabled The Museum of Modern Art and Whitney Museum of American Art to acquire contemporary art for their permanent collections. With his own collection of contemporary works steadily growing, Mr. Aldrich decided to open his own museum in Ridgefield, CT, where he also maintained a residence. Read a 1972 interview with Larry Aldrich from the Smithsonian Archives of American Art.

The Founding of the Museum

The eighteenth-century "Old Hundred" building appealed to Mr. Aldrich because of its high-ceiling rooms and the extensive backyard that would be suitable for the year-round sculpture garden he envisioned. The Larry Aldrich Museum was incorporated as a nonprofit and opened in November 1964 as one of the country's first museums devoted exclusively to the exhibition of contemporary art.

In 1967, the Museum was renamed The Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, with an original Board of Trustees that included Alfred Barr, Joseph Hirshhorn, Philip Johnson, and Vera List. To better focus on its founding mission to exhibit only contemporary art, the Museum's Board voted in 1981 to deaccession the Museum's permanent collection.

The Aldrich Today

Foremost in Mr. Aldrich's vision was that the Museum should make contemporary art accessible to a variety of audiences. Over the course of its forty-year history, The Aldrich has become renowned as a national leader for its presentation of outstanding new art, the cultivation of emerging artists, and its innovation in museum education.

Mr. Aldrich stayed active and involved with the Museum until his death in 2001, shortly prior to which The Aldrich's Board of Trustees, with Larry Aldrich, chairman emeritus, in attendance, had voted to proceed with a major renovation and expansion. Groundbreaking took place in April 2003, and the galleries reopened to the public in June 2004 with a new name, The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum.

Image:Larry Aldrich. Photo by Arnold Newman