Building in a weak economy

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I read at artnet that the Bellevue Museum of Art in Washington state has closed, a victim of financial woes at a time of economic recession. Bellevue may have shot itself in the foot when it ponied up big bucks for a new building which opened in 2001 just about the time the economy started to sour. Read more. (The Milwaukee Art Museum, which went into deficit spending on its new Calatrava addition at about the same time is also in a pickle.) And let’s not even talk about the Guggenheim’s building expansion and how that’s busted the bank.

Locally, the Philadelphia Museum of Art is running a big capital campaign to rennovate its new Perelman Building across the Parkway (Perelman, an ornate, 1920’s-era art-deco building that used to house Fidelity Mutual Life Insurance Company will house administrative offices and part of the collection — costumes and textiles and prints, photographs and works on paper.) Rennovation of the existing structure is estimated at $25 million. A three-story expansion to the building’s rear will cost more. (black and white drawing, above, of Perelman when it was FMLIC home)
Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts likewise is fundraising for its new Hamilton Building, a 1915 building that used to house federal offices, next to the PAFA Furness Building. Hamilton will house offices, classroom space and a first-floor gallery. PAFA’s website lists Hamilton as a$50 million project. (architect’s rendering, above, of big Hamilton next to little Furness)

And of course there’s the Barnes Foundation, teetering on bankruptcy and hoping, Orphans Court permitting, to raise money and move to a building on the Parkway. How many funders are out there for all these projects and how deep are the pockets? It probably helps that PAFA and PMA are retrofitting old buildings and not starting from scratch. But as an art consumer I want to know if i should expect to see the cost of museum entry go up again any time soon.

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building in a weak economy, features & interviews, reviews

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