Open early April through October during regular museum hours.
The Center features The Landscape of Lyme, an exhibition that highlights the history and significance of the region's landscape. In addition, the building includes program space for workshops and a work area for the Museum's garden volunteers.
Located in a traditional 19th century barn, the Rafal Landscape Center forms an integral part of how visitors experience the Museum. This outbuilding, which dates to the mid-19th century, is worthy of preservation as an example of a surviving Connecticut barn and as part of the cultural landscape of the Lyme Art Colony. The barn underwent a comprehensive restoration in 2009 to make it structurally sound, ADA compliant, and accessible to the public. Every effort was made to maintain the barn's rustic character. The architectural plans and design decisions were guided by how the barn looked in the early 20th century as documented by paintings and photographs in Museum's collection. The barn's appearance is consistent with the presentation of the Florence Griswold House as a boardinghouse for artists, c. 1910, and the interpretation of Miss Florence's perennial and vegetable gardens, which are adjacent to the barn.
The Landscape of Lyme Exhibition
Old Lyme is buffered to the west by the Connecticut River and to the south by Long Island Sound. The area is noted for its topographical variety. Moving from the shore to the uplands, Old Lyme is a network of low lying tidal estuaries surrounded by salt meadows that rise to rolling farm fields and rocky upheavals topped by deep shadowed forests. The Landscape of Lyme, explains the evolution of the land, beginning with how the last ice age covered the region with a mile-thick glacier of ice that gouged and deepened the valleys as it advanced and left boulders, gravel, and sand as it melted. Interpretive panels, photographs, and maps recount the impact of the different inhabitants, from Native Americans to the Dutch and English settlers of the 17th century to the 20th century artists who painted its tidal rivers and rocky shores. The exhibit features a silent film from the 1920s and reproductions of historic photographs to convey the openness of the local landscape that once existed when artists from all over America visited the area. Reproductions of paintings, together with a selection of agricultural artifacts, give the visitor a sense of how people have interacted with the Lyme landscape over time.
The restoration process has been documented with photos and commentary on the Museum's blog
Funding for the project came from a variety of sources, including a generous gift from the Rafal Family and a Historic Restoration Fund grant from the Connecticut Commission on Culture and Tourism. The Landscape of Lyme Exhibition was made possible thanks to a grant from the Connecticut Humanities Council.
The Landscape Center is the site for social and educational events throughout the year.
The Center may also be rented for private parties