Just months after it was announced that the Arkansas Art Museum would reopen in May 2022, officials said Monday they needed more time to allow for further improvements to the building and grounds.
An opening in the fall of 2022 was given as a new schedule by the chairman of the museum’s board, Van Tilbury, in a meeting on Monday. He said it would also give more time to the museum’s fundraising campaign for the $ 142 million expansion and renovation project.
The additional improvement options were discovered during the ongoing renovation project that closed the museum in 2019, Tilbury said.
“We have the opportunity to make building and ground improvements,” Tilbury said. “There is no time like the present to do this.”
The new renovations include removing two concrete block walls from a space behind the museum’s black box theater, he said. This will create a glass box to use for events and meeting space.
“It will be income generating,” Tilbury said.
He said the gallery space would be increased by 1,000 square feet and audio and digital projection upgrades would be added.
The garden space has been expanded from several acres to 11 acres, Tilbury said. This includes improvements to the front or crescent lawn through a partnership with the Town of Little Rock.
Power supply will be added to the south side of the building to support seated events of up to 250 people.
“It will be able to host concerts and other events,” Tilbury said.
The museum’s executive director, Dr Victoria Ramirez, said the additional upgrades will provide a building with greater flexibility and functionality.
“As part of the building process, you have your wish list,” Ramirez said. “It’s great that we can have more items on our wish list.”
All of the add-ons are customer-focused, Ramirez said, adding that the average museum visitor will benefit from the changes.
The overall expansion is expected to increase the building’s footprint from 45,000 to 137,000 square feet, according to previous articles in the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.
The museum raised around $ 135 million from the cost of the museum, Ramirez said. She said the extra time would prolong the fundraising campaign.
“These funds not only help build this building, but also support the endowment that will help us run the building properly,” Ramirez said. “We are giving ourselves a little more leeway and thinking more about the future.”
The cost of the museum’s renovation project, formerly known as the Arkansas Arts Center, has been steadily increasing over the years. It was first projected to cost $ 46 million when talks began in 2015.
A private fundraising campaign began in May 2019 with a goal of $ 128 million. After receiving nearly $ 136 million earlier this year, officials announced the new target of $ 142 million.
Voters approved bonds paid by hotel taxes to fund about $ 31.2 million of the expansion project in 2015.
The board also approved its 2022 operating budget at $ 6.2 million at the meeting. The budget is about $ 2 million more than the planned 2021 budget, which officials say will be balanced by the end of the fiscal year.
Ramirez said the increase in the budget supported the opening of the museum in 2022 and included the increase in staff and the move into the building.
“We haven’t finalized these plans,” Ramirez said. “But we could support two installations for a short period of time.”
The building and grounds of MacArthur Park are owned by the city. The city also makes annual maintenance payments to the museum.
The Arkansas Arts Center nonprofit foundation owns the art and manages the endowment, which supports the museum’s operating budget.