Weir Farm National Historic Site

Wilton, CT




Weir Farm National Historic Site to Develop Museum


Congress has authorized the expansion of Weir Farm National Historic Site, CT, for development of visitor / museum and administrative facilities. Superintendent Sarah Olson cited U.S. Senators Joseph Lieberman and Christopher Dodd and Rep. James Maloney, all of the Connecticut congressional delegation, for spearheading the legislation that will give the National Park Service the go-ahead to acquire up to 15 additional acres, allowing for future exhibition space for the American Impressionist paintings created at Weir Farm in the 1880s and 90s.

"The combined visitor center/ museum will provide people with an introduction to the historic site through first-hand experience of the art it inspired," notes Superintendent Olson. From the museum, visitors will be able to tour the artist's home, studio and the landscape that Julian Alden Weir made the subject of his work and through which he helped shaped a major movement in American art.

On public view will be paintings such as Weir's Spring Landscape and The Laundry, Branchville, owned by the Weir Farm Trust. "Like so many of Weir's paintings," explains Olson, "The Laundry depicts an everyday American scene - the very commonness of which became a hallmark of American impressionism in sharp contrast to the heroic paintings of the more remote American wilderness that came before."

The land for the future visitor center, located off Old Branchville Road in Ridgefield, CT, will be secured through assistance from the Trust for Public Land, a national land protectorate that in the 1980s helped save part of the original 238-acre farm, prior to its establishment as a National Historic Site in 1990.

"Because the new law provides the necessary authority but not the funding to purchase the land." stresses Superintendent Olson, "future appropriations will be needed for both land acquisition and construction that will be financed through shared private and federal monies." A substantial gift from the Weir Farm Trust launched the land acquisition effort. The Trust is the private non profit organization working m partnership with the Park Service to carry out the museum project and other public programs at Weir Farm.

To ensure that the museum facility fulfills the interests of both the surrounding community and the National Historic Site the new law calls for the development to be carried out in close cooperation with the local community, specifically through an agreement with the Ridgefield zoning authority. One agreement is already in place with the town of Ridgefield that addresses parking capacity.

Weir Farm National Historic Site is located in Ridgefield and Wilton. Connecticut's only national park, it preserves, largely intact, the house, studio, farm buildings and landscape that were integral to Weir's artistic vision. The site was also a gathering place for Weir's associates, which included other leading American artists who depicted the Weir Farm landscape in their work. The farm has been used continuously by artists since the 19th Century, most notably by the recognized Mormon sculptor, Mahonri Young, whose studio is preserved at the site. Weir Farm is open Wednesday through Sunday, 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM. Studio tours: Wednesday through Saturday, 10 AM, Friday and Saturday, 1 PM. Grounds Tours: Saturday and Sunday, 2 PM

Top to bottom: Weir Farm National Historic Site, Weir studio left, Young studio right; 1997; J. Alden Weir, The Laundry, Branchville, courtesy of the Weir Farm Trust; J. Alden Weir, Spring Landscape, courtesy of National Park Service, Weir Farm N. H. S.; Jen Shelley on Burlingham Grounds, 1997.

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This page was originally published in 1998 in Resource Library Magazine. Please see Resource Library's Overview section for more information.

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