Anchorage Museum begins first phase of proposed expansion
July 11, 2002
Facing a serious space shortage, the Anchorage Museum of History and Art is beginning the first phase of a proposed expansion that will provide much-needed room for the state's largest and still growing art and history collections and archives.
"This is an incredibly exciting time for the museum," says Museum Director Pat Wolf. "Our collections have outgrown our facility, and we're at a point where we need to expand if we are to continue fulfilling our mission to collect and preserve Alaska's art and history. We also feel it is important to add science as a component of telling Alaska's story."
The proposed expansion will also give the museum needed new space to accommodate 1,000 rare Alaska Native artifacts from the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of Natural History. There is also a plan to integrate The Imaginarium's hands-on science discovery center into the proposed expanded museum.
The Museum Building Committee has begun the search for a project advisor to help it through a building planning process that includes selecting architectural design and construction teams and adopting a master plan. The Anchorage Historical and Fine Arts Commission and the museum's support organizations, which include the Anchorage Museum Foundation, the Cook Inlet Historical Society and the Anchorage Museum Association, have been developing a comprehensive plan which will be presented to the mayor and the Municipal Assembly later this summer. Following the work session, a series of public meetings will be held to solicit community input.
The expansion will be funded by both public and private funds. The Anchorage Museum Foundation received a $50 million gift from the late Elmer Rasmuson to cover part of the expansion cost. The Foundation has also received a $5 million Federal appropriation for the expansion and will launch a capital campaign in 2003. Additional funds will be requested from federal, state and municipal sources, including the statewide education bond package in this November's election and possibly a local municipal bond in 2004.
While an expanded Museum would continue to be owned by the municipality, the Anchorage Museum Foundation and the Museum Building Committee will manage the expansion project, since the Museum Foundation holds much of the existing expansion funds and will be responsible for securing the additional funds needed for the project.
Passage of a bond issue this past April paved the way for the clearing of the land on the block west of the present Museum, where the old jail and fire station were located, making room the museum's proposed expansion. Demolition of these buildings and the relocation of the adjacent electrical substation will begin during the next several months. The target date for completion of the proposed Museum expansion has yet to be established, but is estimated at sometime during 2007-2008.
For more information, call Janet Asaro at 343-6151.