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Renovations, expansion planned for museum

November 30, 1999|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

The Washington County Museum of Fine Arts' courtyard will be enclosed as part of a building renovation and expansion project.

The work is expected to cost $2.5 million, according to a project description attached to a state bill.

The nonprofit museum is in Hagerstown's City Park.

The museum's board of trustees is seeking a $300,000 state bond bill to help with the project. Identical versions of the bill are pending before state House and Senate committees.

Currently, the courtyard is open to the sky but surrounded by the museum building itself. The bond bill says the improvements would "enclose" the area, but does not specify how.

Museum Director Joseph Ruzicka said Friday that he and the board agreed that he should wait a week or two, until after an engineering contract has been approved, before commenting on the project.

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The project summary says that work on enclosing the museum's central courtyard will start soon and is expected to be done by January.

The enclosed area would serve as a sculpture court and another place for lectures and music.

"WCMFA has a major sculpture collection that belongs to the whole community and little room in which to show it," the summary says. "Sixty-five percent of the important large-scale sculptures in our collection are in storage due to the lack of exhibition space."

The second phase is renovating the museum building and creating storage room.

The third part is expanding the building "to better display the permanent collection and to enhance our visitors' experience with improved and up-to-date visitor services," the project summary says.

Under "proposed funding sources," the summary lists $1 million from the federal government and $1 million from a private donor. The remaining $200,000 would come from the Appalachian Regional Commission.

Last year, as the museum celebrated its 75th anniversary, it was closed for three weeks in August for renovations, such as the restoration of wood floors.

Five thousand square feet of gallery and other space was completed in 1995, according to the project summary.

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