Tuesday, June 27, 2000

Museum to break ground on expansion

$1.9 million budgeted

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        COVINGTON — The museum that serves as the repository for artifacts from Northern Kentucky's past will break ground today on a $1.9 million expansion designed to bring its far-flung collections under one roof.

        Laurie Risch, executive director of the Behringer-Crawford Museum, estimated less than 10 percent of the museum's 140,000 items are on display or used in educational exhibits. The rest are stored in five different locations.

        “Behringer-Crawford is the only facility dedicated to preserving Northern Kentucky's natural, cultural and artistic heritage,” said Ron Hitzler, chairman of the museum's board of directors. “For the past 50 years, we've worked hard to fulfill this mission. This expansion will help us do that, and do it better, for the next 50 years.”

        One of those pieces of history — an 1898 electric streetcar that has been in storage since 1994 — will be rolled out for a special appearance at today's 10 a.m. groundbreaking.

        “The Kentucky,” the last streetcar to operate on the Cincinnati, Newport and Covington Railway line, underwent a $100,000 restoration four years ago, courtesy of the Transit Authority of Northern Kentucky.

        Still in operable condition, the body of the streetcar — which last ran on Covington and Park Hills streets 50 years ago — will serve as the speaker's platform at today's ceremony, Ms. Risch said.

        “There is still evidence of (streetcar) tracks in some of the backyards of houses on Audubon (Avenue),” Ms. Risch said.

        Besides providing a permanent home for The Kentucky, the expansion of the Behringer-Crawford Museum will double the usable exhibit space, allowing for exhibit rotation. It also will increase space for exhibits by local artists, historical societies and collectors. It will provide space for professional storage and care of the museum's massive collection, allow for additional and updated handicapped accessible restrooms and entrances and provide more rental space for luncheons, banquets and receptions that help the museum stay self-sufficient.

        Construction of the museum's addition is expected to begin in August.

        Later phases call for renovation of the existing museum.

        The project's scheduled completion is 2003 to 2004.


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