Merger Plans Negotiated by City's Art Museums

Article excerpt

A tentative agreement to merge the Oklahoma Museum of Art and the Oklahoma Art Center to form the Oklahoma City Art Museum was announced Thursday.

The agreement is subject to approval of a formal merger document, according to Ellen F. Biscone, public relations director of the Oklahoma Art Center.

Biscone does not anticipate problems with the final agreement. This was the major hurdle, she said.

The Oklahoma City Art Museum will build on the strengths of the two museums, she said.

"We are excited about the opportunity to have a really fine art museum in Oklahoma City," said Ann Felton, president of the board of trustees for the Oklahoma Museum of Art.

A downtown location and 110,000-square-foot facility have been proposed for the new museum. The general obligation bond issue election set for Jan. 10, if passed, would allocate $12 million for a major downtown museum facility, but this is not a condition of the merger.

The merger should be completed in January, Felton said.

The Museum of Art has 15,000 square feet and the Art Center has 26,000.

If the bond election does not pass, plans will proceed with an effort to raise capital funds for the construction of a new facility, Biscone said.

A study conducted by Charles H. Bentz Associates Inc, of Westfield, N.J., to determine potential support for an endowment drive recommended a $10 million to $12 million endowment fund, which is the estimated cost of a new building, exhibitions and operating capital.

The report, released in May, found that the current location of the Art Center at the State Fairgrounds is inappropriate and an adequate endowment is needed.

It has been estimated that renovating the present Art Center facility would cost from $800,000 to $1 million to upgrade the temperature and humidity controls to protect the collection. …