Heidi Brake Smith Celebrating the New Bruce

Heidi Brake Smith,

Heidi Brake Smith,

by Greenwich Sentinel | By Anne W. Semmes

Heidi Brake Smith is much invested in her community of Greenwich. She’s brought her personal interest in public spaces – “how they function, how people react in public spaces,”  to the Bruce Museum. She had a vision for developing downtown Greenwich into a cultural center in her work with the Greenwich Center for the Arts, thus was drawn to realizing “the transformative project” of the New Bruce. She Co-Chairs the Campaign for the New Bruce Committee, along with fellow Trustee John Ippolito and Museum Council Co-Chair Susan Mahoney.

“Museums have the ability to bring people together,” Smith says, “of all ages, all backgrounds, all interests into a public space that brings joy, or understanding of the science, or exploration, or artistic endeavors under one roof. The New Bruce will make a very big difference to downtown Greenwich as a whole, and also the region.”

 “This new Museum ties to the existing Bruce Park and the downtown area coming off of Steamboat Road. People who are on lower Greenwich Avenue will realize that the Bruce is very close. It’s a visual link on what is a continuous street that has been bifurcated by the railroad and the highway that feels like two sections. The New Bruce has this ability of joining those areas.”

Smith shows a downtown schematic of how the Bruce sits in the center of a circle of surrounding streets. What the New Bruce brings, she says, “is that it’s walkable. It’s reachable. The New Bruce building project re-orients the entrance toward Bruce Park and creates a much more accessible Museum.

“Visitors will enter straight into the Museum’s public spaces from this new, ‘park level.’ They can then either take the elevator or the stairs to the galleries, which will open up a lot of opportunities for people who struggle in the physical format of the Museum today. From a functionality point of view, this takes the Museum to where it should be as a public institution.”

Wherever Smith travels, she visits public spaces. “They are the front door to a community,” she says. “You begin to understand what people are interested in in those communities, what they value.” What amazed her on a recent museum visit in her travels was seeing “multi-generations on a Saturday morning getting excited about an exhibition. Most people play sports on a Saturday morning, and it was teeming with little kids in strollers and parents. Those kids want to go every week. And when you see that kind of excitement, you’re like – those are special places.”

“A museum fits lots of people at different points in time,” says Smith. Her two grown children, she shares, had much benefited from the Bruce. “There are times in your life that you’re very active in your local community, and times when your kids are little and you go to Tod’s Point. Then they’re older, and you’re at the sports field.” But as she viewed recently at the Bruce, “on a super-hot, or rainy day – guess what? They’re at the Bruce!” 

Smith believes, “As a community member it is important to support our greatest assets. We have seen this time and time again that Greenwich stands on its beach, Tod’s Point, on the Byram Park and Pool, the Greenwich Hospital. When you have those key institutions that are strong, that are resilient, that keep up with state-of-the-art technology, that are ready for the next 50 to 100 years in their programming, those institutions, those intangibles, benefit everybody. It’s a sense of pride for someone to say, ‘I live in Greenwich,’ and, someone else says, ‘Oh, I hear you have a really beautiful Museum!’” 

Bruce ConsTRUCKS Event Kicks Off Next Phase of Expansion

Held on Sunday, September 8, Bruce ConsTRUCKS served as the spirited launch of the public phase of the Campaign for the New Bruce. More than 1,500 Museum and Community members enjoyed a fun afternoon of free, family-oriented activities, including the rare chance to draw on the Museum’s gallery walls prior to the start of renovation work. The occasion also served as an opportunity for Bruce staff and Campaign leaders to thank supporters of the New Bruce and to invite the entire community to join these benefactors in reimagining the Bruce Museum. 

A special thank you to Bruce ConsTRUCKS Co-Chairs Felicity Kostakis, Cricket Lockhart, Julia Nusseibeh, and Candace Procaccini for helping organize such a memorable day! And to our sponsors Eversource, Blaskeslee Arpaia Chapman Inc., Cummings & Lockwood LLC, Empire ECS Construction Management, Felicity Kostakis, Cricket and Jim Lockhart, McDermott Paint & Wallpaper, Inc., Julia and Jamal Nusseibeh, PepsiCo., Candace Procaccini, Rise Brewing Co., and Sweet Lisa’s Exquisite Cakes for their incredibly generous support of the Bruce Museum.

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Bruce Museum Receives $5 Million Donation from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation

The Gift from the Longtime Museum Supporters Will Fund a Major Expansion of Educational Programming at the New Bruce

A view of the school-group orientation space in the New Bruce. Currently the Museum’s main entrance  and lobby, this area will serve as the entry to the greatly expanded Education Wing.

A view of the school-group orientation space in the New Bruce. Currently the Museum’s main entrance
and lobby, this area will serve as the entry to the greatly expanded Education Wing.

GREENWICH, CT, September 8, 2019– The Bruce Museum’s Campaign for the New Bruce has received a $5 million gift from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation. The donation, first announced to the public at a community-wide celebration held at the Museum on Sunday, September 8, will fund the Education Wing planned for the Museum’s transformative expansion and construction project currently under way.

“Steven and Alexandra Cohen, through their charitable foundation, are already invaluable supporters of the Museum’s youth and family programs, helping us provide arts education to over 25,000 K-12 students a year from schools across our region,” says Robert Wolterstorff, The Susan E. Lynch Executive Director. “With this incredibly generous capital donation from the Cohens, the Museum will be able to deliver on its promise to double the number of schoolchildren we serve each year, and dramatically expand our arts education programs for students, families, and visitors of all ages and abilities. This is a game-changer for the New Bruce, and we can’t thank the Cohens enough for their vision and commitment to the Museum.”

The new Education Wing of the reimagined Museum will be located in the current Museum building and will include new classrooms, with space dedicated to interactive, hands-on learning quadrupling in size. The Education Wing, which will be named in honor of the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation, will have its own dedicated entrance, enabling the Museum to accommodate over 200 students per day in grades K-12. For a number of these students, a school trip to the Bruce will be their first encounter with a museum.

“Giving children access to the arts can help change their perspective and also spark their own creativity – two very important lessons when it comes to teaching young students,” said Alex Cohen, president, Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation. “We are so excited to partner with the Bruce Museum to make arts education an essential part of learning for children who would otherwise not have this opportunity.”

With the Cohen Foundation’s gift, the Campaign for the New Bruce is now more than 80 percent of the way toward the construction goal of $45 million. The overall $60 million campaign includes an additional $15 million for the Museum’s Endowment, to ensure sustainability and to support new programs. More than $6 million has been raised for the New Bruce Endowment.

The September 8 celebration, Bruce ConsTRUCKS, served as the launch of the public phase of the Campaign, an occasion to thank supporters of the New Bruce and to invite the entire community to join these benefactors in reimagining the Bruce Museum. 

The day also marked the beginning of the next phase of the expansion project: a top-to-bottom renovation of the Museum’s current changing gallery spaces. These galleries will re-open on February 1, 2020 with the installation of major new art and science exhibitions. The enhancements to the art galleries will be followed, in February 2020, by a complete renovation and reinvention of the permanent science galleries. 

 The centerpiece of the New Bruce is a three-story, 40,000 square-foot addition that will more than double the size of the current Museum. Designed by the New Orleans firm of EskewDumezRipple, the building will open directly onto Bruce Park and feature a delicate striated façade of cast stone and glass inspired by the surfaces of Connecticut’s rock quarries. Groundbreaking for the art wing will take place summer 2020. 

 When complete, this unprecedented initiative will expand the Museum from 30,000 square feet toover 70,000 square feet, adding state-of-the-art exhibition galleries for art and science, new education spaces, and a restaurant, auditorium, and meeting spaces that will make the Museum a vibrant center for the Greenwich community.

 Bruce Museum Managing Director, Suzanne Lio, applauded the Cohens for their past support, as well as the ways in which this major new gift will impact the Museum’s future, stating, “The Bruce is delivering art instruction to more children and young adults, and touching the lives of  greater numbers of visitors of all ages and abilities than ever before because of the annual support we receive from the Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation. This incredibly impactful gift – and the generosity that this gift will undoubtedly inspire in other supporters – will transform the way we reach audiences.”

The Campaign for the New Bruce Committee is Co-Chaired by John Ippolito, Susan V. Mahoney, and Heidi Brake Smith and includes Frederic H. Brooks, Patricia W. Chadwick, Maryann Keller Chai, William Deutsch, Nancy A. Duffy, Kathy Epstein, Becky Gillan, Robert B. Goergen, Sachiko Goodman, Tracy Holton, Karen Keegan, Jan Rogers Kniffen, Arianne F. Kolb, Robert H. Lawrence, Jr., Cricket Lockhart, James B. Lockhart III, and Deborah Simon. 

To join these and other supporters of the Bruce Museum, please contact Whitney Lucas Rosenberg, Director of Development and Institutional Advancement, at 203-413-6765 or wrosenberg@brucemuseum.orgor Barbara Tavrow, Campaign Director, at 203-249-8225 or btavrow@brucemuseum.org

About Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation

The Steven & Alexandra Cohen Foundation is committed to inspiring philanthropy and community service by creating awareness, offering guidance and leading by example to show the world what giving can do. Since launching the Foundation in 2001, Steven and Alexandra Cohen have generously funded local and national nonprofit organizations that uplift the communities in which they serve. The Cohens’ giving reflects their personal connection with the causes that inspire them. To learn more, please visit steveandalex.orgor follow the Foundation on Facebook,Twitter, and Instagram.