Friday, December 03, 1999

Museum puts off expansion

Soil problems force redesign

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — Problems with unstable soil have prompted the Behringer-Crawford Museum to redesign its planned addition, which will delay construction until spring.

        Museum supporters had hoped to break ground on the $2.2 million expansion and renovation project by this fall.

        However, soil tests showed that the area where they planned to build wasn't stable enough, and would have required another $100,000 worth of foundation work, said architect Jack Gore.

        The latest design calls for moving the museum's addition farther from the existing building. The two buildings will be connected by a 25-foot walkway.

        “Instead of putting so much money into shoring and piering, we felt that the money would be better spent to lengthen the connector, which is usable space,” Mr. Gore said.

        Information has been submitted to engineers, and Mr. Gore expects to know within 10 days whether the new design will work.

        “Maybe this stuff was meant to happen,” said Laurie Risch, executive director of the Behringer-Crawford Museum. “I feel really good about the latest design. (Mr. Gore) has been very sensitive to the site and to the architecture of this building.”

        Ms. Risch said she hopes to start building the 6,000-square-foot addition by May.

        The addition will provide more exhibit, reception and programming space, as well as a permanent home for a one- of-a-kind renovated streetcar.

        The existing museum, which will mark its 50th year of operation in July, will be renovated after the addition is built.

        Improvements will include a climate-controlled facility for archival storage and handling, a lab classroom, improved access for the disabled, landscaping and new driveways.

        Earlier this year, the museum's board unsuccessfully sought the backing of the Northern Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Consensus Committee to request $1.925 million in state money for the improvements.

        Without the state money, the project is expected to take about five years, Ms. Risch said.

        “We've not given up (on the prospect of state funding),” Ms. Risch said. “We're looking at some other avenues, including state grant programs.”

        Museum supporters have raised $450,000 for the improvements, mostly through corporate donations and grants.

        “Our goal is to have about $800,000 by February,” Ms. Risch said.

        Designed to reflect the region's natural, cultural and artistic heritage, the museum's permanent exhibits span more than 450 million years, and special exhibits showcase Northern Kentucky's cultural history.

        With the planned improvements, one idea is to rotate collections of similar items every six months, so visitors can identify their own items by comparing them with the museum's.

        “We want to make sure that things don't just stay in boxes, tucked away behind locked doors,” Ms. Risch said.


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