One Goal of Columbus Art Museum Fundraising: New Loading Dock

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The Columbus Museum of Art has passed the halfway point in its $80 million Art Matters fundraising campaign. The museum will allocate part of the money raised to an endowment. The remainder will go toward expansion and renovation which includes, oddly enough, a new loading dock.

A steady stream of people buy tickets to see the exhibition “In Monet’s Garden,” now in its final week at the Columbus Museum of Art. But sometimes, Executive Director Nannette Maciejunes says the museum cannot attract important touring exhibitions because of limited gallery space.

“Collectors don’t want to give you works of art if you can’t exhibit them and share them with the public,” she says.

The expansion will add 50,000 square feet to the current 100,000 square foot Beaux Arts building. But as things are now, some art owners might be apprehensive about the safety of their artwork; not inside the Columbus museum, but as the pieces are delivered to and shipped from the building.

“We are currently on the loading dock that’s attached to our 1931 building.”

That’s museum spokeswoman Nancy Colvin who says the expansion plan includes improved loading and unloading facilities.

“Our hope is to enclose the dock so that as deliveries are made the truck can pull in, unload the art works in a secure environment and then be able to pull back out without any concerns,” Colvin says.

Once the $30 million project is complete an entire truck will be able to enter and exit the building. Maciejunes says the modernization will help ensure increased access to great artwork in Central Ohio.

“Increasingly we’re noticing when we borrow works from others they ask if we have an enclosed dock. That might seem to be a really extraordinary thing to want but we believe it will become a standard in the next few years. And if we don’t keep up with the standards of the art profession we won’t be able to borrow great paintings or get on great tours to bring them here,” Maciejunes says.

Museum officials say they don’t know how much the state-of-the-art indoor dock will cost. They say contractors for the project have yet to be chosen. Maciejunes is hopeful that construction will begin in 2009 and completed in time for the city’s bicentennial in 2012.