Art Museum looks to build new museum

(Photo: Domenica Bongiovanni/Journal & Courier)

(Photo: Domenica Bongiovanni/Journal & Courier)

Domenica Bongiovanni,
5:35 p.m. EDT July 7, 2016


LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The Art Museum of Greater Lafayette is seeking a new location to build a new home.

The museum's board of directors has approved a master planning process to begin the project, executive director Kendall Smith said. Right now, a relocation committee at the museum is looking for a site in the heart of Greater Lafayette to build a facility that is 50,000 square feet, he said.

Its current space, at 102 S. 10th St., has simply become too small, Smith said. At just 13,000 square feet, it doesn't have enough room for the galleries, permanent collection, programming and storage.

"We want to continue to be the leader in the visual arts (in this region of Indiana) and provide lots of opportunities for people," Smith said.

The museum has had to forgo particular works by artists who have exhibited there because of restrictive 8-foot ceilings, Smith said. What's more, the permanent collection has doubled in the last 10 years and continues to grow, he said. Part of the reason the museum has loaned out work long-term, he said, is to ease demands on space.

The additional space the museum is planning for takes this into account along with the desire to add a small theater for live performances and guest speakers as well as a catering spot for events, Smith said.

The museum has ruled out a few options. Adding on to the current structure isn't viable because of its engineering, he said, and tearing it down and rebuilding is too costly. Previously built facilities museum representatives have reviewed don't meet the gallery's specifications, which include large amounts of unbroken wall space, Smith said.

The moving process is in the early stages, and no timeline or cost has been made up. Keystone Architecture is providing consulting, and museum representatives have met with city and county officials to relay their plans and seek input, Smith said.

This isn't the first of talk about moving the museum. Smith said discussions go back as late as the 1980s. This time, however, is the furthest they've come to making it happen, he said. The plan has full support from the Art Museum of Greater Lafayette Foundation and the Art Museum Governing Board, he said.

Call J&C reporter Domenica Bongiovanni at 765-420-5247. Follow her on Twitter: @DomenicaReports.