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City museum receives money for lobby remodel

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The Roswell Museum and Art Center has received some money that city staff want to use to help pay for the remodel of the museum lobby that would include relocation of the store to the front of the building.

RMAC Executive Director Caroline Brooks said that the museum was given $340,000 by the state, with the funding intended to assist in tourism recovery.

Brooks and City Manager Joe Neeb want the money to go toward the remodel and gift shop relocation, which probably would cost about $700,000 to $800,000.

“We wanted to make the museum more welcoming, inclusive, accessible,” said Brooks. “And part of that is how our spaces feel and interact with the public when they come in.”

The museum isn’t ready yet to commit to a project or begin work, but Brooks is again discussing her ideas with Roswell city councilors, including the three members of the Legal Committee that met Wednesday.

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Brooks explained that the museum identified renovation needs during its 2017 strategic plan and then worked with city staff and Huitt Zollars architects in 2018 to come up with some initial design concepts, which will change as projects progress.

Moving the gift store would create a more interesting lobby and admissions area, but it would also give greater visibility to the local and regional artists and the collections featured in the store, as well as help increase sales. The museum is interested in doing that as part of its cost-recovery strategy in which it is expected to earn 70% of its operating costs each year through sales, museum admissions, memberships, classes and other activities.

Brooks said the second phase would involve renovating the museum area that would be vacated by the store move to create an interactive family gallery.

Future plans include improving the Robert H. Goddard exhibit, upgrading the main exterior entrance on the south to be more artistic and visually attractive, and changing the exterior courtyard to include learning exhibits and artwork.

“We are anticipating that phase one will run $700,000 to $800,000,” said Neeb.

The additional $400,000 to $500,000 could come from such sources as federal coronavirus funds or donations.

He said that phase two, the family gallery, is “instrumental in its own right” and that the city intends to seek state capital outlay funding for that project at some point.

Lisa Dunlap can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 351, or at reporter02@rdrnews.com.

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Lisa Dunlap is a general assignment reporter for the Roswell Daily Record.