WATERLOO — A campaign to raise approximately $1 million has been launched by the Grout Museum District.
“Opening New Doors” will provide funding to relocate the main entrance gate, admissions office and museum shop to facilitate access to the newly renovated Norris Corson Family Planetarium, as well as museum exhibits.
“There is enthusiasm for the campaign from staff and our board. The board has stepped up to help with fundraising by hosting prospect events and bringing family and friends to the museum for a planetarium show. We are getting a lot of investment in the project from the community,” said Billie Bailey, executive director of the Grout Museum District.
The main entrance gate, admissions office and museum store, currently located on the Park Avenue side of the Sullivan Brothers Iowa Veterans Museum, will be moved upstairs to the area of an entrance currently used by staff , volunteers and tour groups. It is directly off South Street and has parking.
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“When we were finalizing the planetarium upgrades, we realized ‘here’s this fabulous new addition to the neighborhood,’ and it was difficult to get to,” Bailey said. The $11 million Iowa Veterans Museum opened in 2008 and at the time there were serious discussions about ways to provide additional parking “which is not is not materialized”.
Moving the visitor entrance will also improve functionality on the lower level. The current museum shop will be removed, greatly increasing the capacity of the event center. Along with improved amenities, the new space will provide an updated venue that can accommodate larger events.
The renovation of the facilities will be led by Invision and Peters Construction Corp.
Those changes have been a long time coming, said Barbara Corson, Grout Museum District administrator on the board. “When the planetarium reopened and was so popular, it became more crucial than ever for us to make the best use of the museum.
“I think we are lucky to have a museum of this scale in the metropolitan area. We need to keep moving forward, always improving and always aware of how best to deliver our services and best accommodate our customers,” explained Corson.
Council Administrator Tammy Fleming noted that the move will move the main entrance to its original location, before the Veterans Museum was built.
“Relocating the entrance helps us improve the museum experience and ultimately provide better visitor flow through the museum and planetarium. The new flow will create a comfortable atmosphere for people and more efficiency for staff,” Fleming explained.
Funding has already been secured for some renovation costs, Bailey said.
“Price is a moving target as the cost of materials keeps rising, but we currently have enough funds to start working on the interior changes, but it will take around $1 million to complete the full renovation. Any amount of donation will help.
Donations can also be made in honor of a family member, such as a veteran, astronomy or history enthusiast.
Work could begin as early as August, Bailey said.
To donate to the “Opening New Doors” campaign, visit gmdistrict.org/donate or call (319) 234-6357 for more information.
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