Tacoma Art Museum breaks ground on $15.5M expansion project

Tacoma Art Museum celebrated a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday with some 300 supporters and the community to kick off the museum’s transformative building expansion project. Construction begins in late October on the approximately 16,000 square foot new wing and building renovation. The new wing will provide a home for the Haub Family Collection of Western American Art, double the museum’s gallery space, provide greater art experiences for visitors, and increase the museum’s role in downtown Tacoma. Award-winning architects Olson Kundig will design the expansion and renovation.

Tacoma Art Museum Director Stephanie A. Stebich and Board President Steve Barger were joined by U.S. Congressman Derek Kilmer, Washington State Governor Jay Inslee, City of Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland, Connie McCloud from the Puyallup Tribe, and members of the Haub family in marking this historic moment for the 78-year-old institution.

“This is a remarkable moment for the museum,” said Stephanie A. Stebich, Director of Tacoma Art Museum. “We are taking a historic step toward connecting Tacoma’s past and present through art. This extraordinary project is proof of our community’s dedication to the arts and we are honored to be able to create a gathering space where we can all meet and share art moments for generations to come.”

The groundbreaking ceremony stepped away from the customary shovel and hardhat formalities and instead made the art the centerpiece, bringing key stakeholders in the project together to literally raise the art in the same fashion of an old-time barn-raising. Guests were also treated to roping lessons and the dulcet tones of the Crazy Horse Cowgirl Band before heading into the museum to hear from lead architect Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects, Art Collectors Christian and Liliane Haub, Tacoma Art Museum Director Stephanie A. Stebich, and Haub Curator of Western American Art, Laura F. Fry. The panel discussion, titled Building the Museum. Building the Collection. was an opportunity for the community to hear first-hand why Western American art is important in the Northwest and how the new wing will help strengthen Tacoma’s place in the national art scene.

“The arts are one of the great economic engines in our state,” said Washington State Governor Jay Inslee. “This is a great economic investment for our state. It means 135 construction jobs. It means 10 permanent positions at the museum. It means 20 percent more projected visitors making investments right here in the state of Washington. The Seahawks are a great economic engine. Boeing and Microsoft are great economic engines, but it’s great that we have a new economic engine right here in Tacoma.”

Many people have joined in to help realize the museum’s building project. Not only has the Puget Sound community contributed individually and collectively, but the museum has also received federal support of $150,000 through the National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with the City of Tacoma. Tacoma Art Museum was recently awarded $2 million from the State of Washington Building for the Arts program to support this $15.5 million building expansion project. The City of Tacoma has also been very supportive with a $400,000 grant. The addition of this grant along with many other generous donations leaves the museum $500,000 left to raise to fund the project.

One of twelve organizations selected to receive funds by the Washington Department of Commerce, the funds will amplify the museum’s economic impact by $1.5 million annually for a total of $5.9 million. The projected increased visitor attendance will translate into a host of local economic impacts such as increased patronage to neighboring businesses, other cultural institutions, transit, and parking, totaling $24.50 per person on average. The funds from Building for the Arts only adds up to 16 per cent of the total cost of the capital projects it supports. The remaining 84 per cent is invested by private individuals, businesses, foundations, and local governments.

The museum’s expansion integrates with other local civic projects including Tacoma’s Pacific Avenue Streetscape and the Prairie Line pedestrian and bike trail.

To read the Tacoma Daily Index‘s complete and comprehensive coverage of the Tacoma Art Museum’s expansion project, click on the following links: