Daily News photo/ALY GIBSON A construction worker pries wood from the walls of the former Behnke Paint and Floor Covering building Thursday to ready the space for museum preparations.

Archived Story

Museum plans progress forward

Published 6:08pm Thursday, July 12, 2012

The southwest Michigan museum, formerly housed on the Dowagiac campus of Southwestern Michigan College, is moving steadily toward its new home in the former Behnke Paint and Floor Covering building on Railroad Street.

In a recent update on the project from City Manager Kevin Anderson, plans to move the museum to the new space, which is more than double the size of its original location, are moving forward at a steady pace. A grant application for $68,000 is also in the process of being modified after the state increased the grant pool from $1 million to $10 millon.

“Because the funding amount was changed, we can update and modify our application,” Anderson said. “We have until the 27th of this month to submit the new application.”

Anderson said the funding, if granted, would cover the expenses of the city purchasing the building for $17,000, putting updated fiber optics in the new facility and moving the artifacts.

“The museum is officially closed now, and they’ve boxed up the exhibits and will begin the process of moving them,” Anderson said.

The new building is undergoing a gutting process, with crews ripping out anything and everything to get the space back to bare walls. According to Anderson, the space will allow museum exhibits to inhabit the first floor and basement, with the second floor left open.

“We’re doing things in pieces, which is good to do with projects like this,” Anderson said. “If you don’t, you leave too little flexibility for the future.”

Anderson also said the city is continuing to look at other grants to fund upgrades to the space, including elevator installation and extension of the downtown brand to include the new area.

“The front will include stone and black glass, which will look like windows,” Anderson said. “We also hope to acquire grants that help us place further signage and landscaping to continue the whole package.”

During the City Council meeting Monday evening, Anderson also announced City Clerk Jim Snow and his family donated $1,000 to the project. Anderson said the city hopes that once the project is progresses, others will donate, too.

“I’ve had a few modest inquires,” Anderson said.

After the grant application has been submitted, Anderson said the turn-around will be quick.

“By the end of August or early September, we should know the state’s decision,” Anderson said.

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