Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Study Approves Move Downtown by Art Museum

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Study Approves Move Downtown by Art Museum

Article excerpt

Journal Record Staff Reporter

Locating the Oklahoma City Art Museum in the grand lobby of the historic First National Center would create an "open house for Oklahoma City," museum officials said Wednesday.

A final feasibility study has recommended consolidating the museum's three locations to galleries surrounding the "Great Banking Room" in the downtown building's second and third floors.

In his report, museum consultant Dr. Robert Bergman described the two-story lobby, as a "splendid architectural monument. . .an art deco central court blockbuster, gigantic in scale and harmoniously intact."

Bergman said other options to expand or consolidate museum locations were not feasible. Expanding the Nichols Hills location is impractical because the mansion is poorly suited for museum function, and building a new structure is cost prohibitive. Other current locations are at the state fairgrounds and Artsplace downtown.

He said the three locations did not provide enough space for basic exhibition and educational functions. Only about 5 percent of the museum's 3,000-piece collection is currently displayed. The museum would gain an additional 27,000 square feet, totaling about 70,000 square feet, at the First National Center.

The deal would include "friendly lease terms" and renaming the building Museum Tower, said John Kennedy, who purchased the building in July with Mike Samis, both of Oklahoma City.

Kennedy said the city's Metropolitan Area Projects was a major factor in purchasing the building, but "we recognize that downtown cannot survive on sports alone. We need more cultural attractions in the heart of the city."

"This space is somewhat of a museum in and of itself. There aren't many (other) uses for it."

The next obstacle for the museum's board is to determine funding for the project. Frankfurt-Short-Bruza Associates of Oklahoma City has given the museum an initial rough estimate of $6 million for renovations.

Changes would include cleaning the murals and other artwork in the lobby, converting office space into galleries and storage areas complete with temperature and humidity controls, making an auditorium, educational area and cafe plus providing security for the museum's $15 million collection. …

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