The Dowagiac Area History Museum will be studied by designers from local architectural firm Arkos Design, who will create preliminary drawings of potential expansion concepts for the structure. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)
The Dowagiac Area History Museum will be studied by designers from local architectural firm Arkos Design, who will create preliminary drawings of potential expansion concepts for the structure. (Leader photo/TED YOAKUM)

Archived Story

Plans continue for potential museum expansion

Published 6:30am Friday, December 13, 2013

The City of Dowagiac has taken another step toward the expansion of the city’s history museum, entering into an agreement this week with a local design firm to plot out potential additions to the building.

The city council approved plans to partner with Niles-based Arkos Design during a regular Monday. The firm will survey the Dowagiac Area History Museum, located on Railroad Street downtown, creating design mock-ups for future exhibit areas that the city could then use for fundraising efforts.

“It will be good to have drawings on hand to show potential donors,” said Steve Arseneau, the museum’s director. “We could show them what the new expansions could potentially look like, which will help the marketing for our fundraising campaign.”

The museum plans to present the design work as part of its efforts to raise capital for expansion of the museum. The city has planned to create additional space for the institution since it reopened in the former building of Behnke’s Paint in May. However, the project requires donations from companies and private individuals

The firm will focus its survey on the museum’s second floor, which, despite the fact it contains a number of exhibits, remains incomplete. The museum could use the additional space for guest exhibits, and to better showcase the city’s long history, Arseneau said.

“We always knew we would need additional money for the upstairs, since day one,” Arseneau said.

The design company will also draft plans for a potential expansion to the museum’s back, which can be used for additional exhibits showcasing the history of Cass County, Arseneau said.

“There’s been a lot of stories we haven’t been able to tell, due to a lack of additional space,” the director said.

The city has been in talks to conduct the work with Arkos since August, said Kevin Anderson,  Dowagiac city manager. The firm has worked extensively with Southwestern Michigan College in the past, designing many of the schools facilities, including the building where the museum was formerly located.

“We knew they had a sense of the area, and a sense of what we wanted to accomplish with the project,” Anderson said.

The firm is expected to have the preliminary designs completed in around three months, Anderson said. It will cost the city between $5,000 and $6,700, the funds for which will come from the $10,000 that has already been donated to the museum for capital and archival purposes.

“People were making donations to the museum since before it even opened,” Anderson said. “It speaks to how excited some folks were to have this museum open up downtown.”

Once the work is completed, the city will have a clearer picture of the museum’s potential future to present to possible doners, Anderson said.

“We’ll be able to speak with certainty on what will go into the new space and how much it will cost,” he said. “We don’t want to overstate or understate that amount.”

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