Expansion plans for the Muskegon Museum of Art are on track for a June launch

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The more than $10 million expansion will more than double the century-old building.

MUSKEGON, Mich. – The Muskegon Museum of Art is known for its collection of American and European paintings.

It also hosts many events and educational programs, but it’s experiencing some growing pains, with more art than it has space to display.

As it turns out, the Muskegon leg’s expansion plans could align with the city’s strategy to fuel growth over the next five years.

The Muskegon Lakeshore Chamber of Commerce, during an April interview with 13 ON YOUR SIDE, hinted at an imminent turning point from tourism to quality of life, enticing newcomers to settle in Muskegon.

The long-awaited expansion of the art museum promises to be one of the biggest draws.

“We’ve assembled one of the finest collections in the Midwest in the last 110 years,” says Kirk Hallman, the museum’s executive director.

A collection of irreplaceable art and culture that has been growing and thriving since the turn of the century. Now it rivals some of the best museums in the Midwest.

“Opened in 1912,” Hallman said. “We have about 5,000 pieces in the collection.”

Without nearly enough space to display everything.

“We can get out in our small building, maybe 150 on a good day, so we’re expanding,” Hallman laughed.

Despite the delays and backlogs along the supply chain that are now known, Hallman expects the multi-million dollar expansion to begin on schedule.

“It will really change our nature. That will really make us a destination,” he said.

The building was the first such project since the construction of a new wing in the 1980s and was intended to expand the museum’s existing capacity with nearly 20,000 square feet of exhibition space.

The works will expand their footprint onto the current site and the existing laneway towards Clay Street and downtown beyond with integrated public spaces.

The idea is to create an urban, walkable feel.

“We’re doing three big galleries in the new museum, very big galleries, we’re going to drive a truck into a dump,” Hallman said. “Habitability is really built into the expansion. In cooperation with the city we will build a public square in front of the door.”

The expanded space will also include several smaller galleries, a roof terrace, and basement spaces for pieces not currently on display.
The historic turn-of-the-century facade of the museum will remain untouched during the renovations.

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Instead, Hallman said the original building would house a permanent exhibition space.

“This city has been turning it on its head for a long time. Now we’re coming back,” he said. “This whole collection, this institution and the symphony, etc., etc. That was created from all the stuff of the people of Muskegon… that’s what this city is capable of.”

The museum is expected to break ground during a gala in June.

Provided the project stays on schedule, the work will be completed in 2024.

The museum will remain open to the public during the renovations.

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