Museum Steps Closer To New Home

August 19, 2002
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GRAND RAPIDS — The Grand Rapids Art Museum can now lay claim to the old Wurzburg block downtown as site of its new home.

The Downtown Development Authority agreed Wednesday to exchange with the city the DDA-owned DASH South property behind the Van Andel Arena and west of US-131 for the city-owned Wurzburg/Mutual Home property at the southwest of Ottawa Avenue and Monroe Center. 

The DASH South property will become home to the Interurban Transit Partnership’s new surface transportation center.

The 69,000-square-foot lot in the Wurzburg block will become home to a new 125,000-square-foot art museum.

The property is adjacent to Rosa Parks Circle and artist Maya Lin’s “Ecliptic,” and close to the new convention center that’s underway — a location the museums’ architect selection committee determined had determined best for a new facility.

In the new facility the museum will have three times the gallery and exhibition space it currently has. It also will feature a family learning center, expanded shops, a café and an auditorium.

“We’re still developing what the program needs are for the new museum, and that will be our next big focus,” said museum spokesperson Kristen Corrado.

“We’ve already started working with our staff, our board and our trustees. Now we’re going to be looking at the community as well and how we can best serve the community.

In June, the art museum’s board selected London-based Mukenbeck & Marshall as the project’s design architects.  

Corrado said the architects have been in town two or three times this summer and are due back next month.

They’re working on a conceptual design model as well as on assembling a design-construction team.

The hope is the team will be in place in October and a model of new building will be ready by the end of the year, Corrado said.  

With the models’ unveiling, the museum will officially launch a capital fund raising campaign.

An actual fund raising goal has yet to be announced, but cost of the new building has been estimated between $40 million and $60 million.

The Wege Foundation gave the project a whopping kick-start last November with a $20 million pledge, $5 million of which it designated for operating endowment.

Construction is expected to begin in 2004, with the museum opening late in 2006.

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