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Sandy Spring Museum wants a more ‘fun’ctional outdoors

by Judith Hruz


Sandy Spring Museum wants to make its outside as welcoming as its inside.

For two years the Buildings and Grounds Committee has been evaluating the museum grounds and, in particular, why those grounds are so underutilized compared to the museum building.

With suggestions and ideas from board members, staff and other stakeholders – such as nearby residents, particularly those on Bentley Road — the committee has begun reaching out to the community to get a better idea of what would be thoughtful and useful ways to renovate the grounds.

Architect Scott Knudson has led online meetings to gather thoughts and suggestions.

“The committee spent two years evaluating solutions for issues that we were trying to address, most of which started with the fact that the grounds are underutilized while the immediate community does not have any public green spaces,” said Sandy Spring Museum Executive Director Allison Weiss.

Weiss said that need for public open space has been noted in the Sandy Spring Village Plan and the current discussions on the Ashton Village Center Sector Plan.

“We want the museum to serve that purpose,” she said. “We’re looking for feedback because we want to make sure that whatever we build meets the needs of community members.”

In its Master Plan, the museum committee says outdoor uses could include improved flow for festivals, the ability to accommodate large events, storage, a greenhouse, outdoor rest rooms, picnic groves, walking paths and the ability to integrate more artists with more space, studio clusters, and exhibits and sculpture walks.

The plan also includes more parking, including off-site parking, and demolishing the red-brick house that sits on museum property to the east of the main structures and in plain view from Olney-Sandy Spring Road (Route 108). Knudson said the idea is that the house is not utilized and would allow for better outside flow of activities.

Street landscaping is included in the plans.

The master plan calls for constructing the additions and amenities in several phases over five years or more.

Fundraising and financing is “anticipated to be a long-term effort,” according to the plan. Weiss is already working on grants and museum officials will seek private donations.

The master plan says that all elements of the changes – design, permitting and construction – is expected to cost $5 million to $6 million.

None of the plans are finalized yet and there is time for the community to have its say in what it would like to see.


    Museum officials are eager to hear comments from the community.

    The next public meeting will be held at 7 p.m. April 15.

    Details and sign up here: https://www.sandyspringmuseum.org/event/virtual-community-input-on-museum-grounds-2/.

    The community is welcome to contact Allison Weiss directly with thoughts and comments. She can be reached at [email protected].

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