Albany Museum of Art requests $8 million from Albany City Commission

Apr. 19—ALBANY — The Albany Museum of Art has projected funding the renovation of the former Belk's building for its move downtown will take nearly $35 million, and on Tuesday a representative requested an $8 million contribution from the city of Albany.

Museum Executive Director Andrew Wulf made the request for funding through the next special-purpose local-option sales tax initiative during an Albany City Commission work session.

The timeline for moving the museum from its current location on Gillionville Road to the downtown location at the corner of North Washington Street and West Broad Avenue, which would more than double the space for the museum from 25,000 square feet to 53,000 square feet, is up to 60 months.

"A lead gift from Albany would be demonstrative and important," Wulf told commissioners. "Your investment will set the pace for others to join and invest in the community.

"Our museum in Albany builds connections with individuals and communities to inspire curiosity, appreciation, understanding, and passion for art and creative thinking. We engage diverse experiences and perspectives in our audiences through exhibitions, events, collection preservation, research, and educational programming that have an impact on our residents."

Being downtown will make the AMA more accessible to the public, he said.

Some of the features planned for the expansion include expanded exhibition space for art in range of sizes and media, expanded event and classroom space, state-of-the-art collection storage for the museum's permanent collection, studio space for artists-in-residence, multimedia systems to support new and emerging art, a cafe and museum store and an outdoor sculpture garden.

Among the questions addressed to Wulf was one from Commissioner Jalen Johnson, who asked whether the museum would be seeking additional funding for operations.

"That's a lot of money," he said. "The assumption is it's a one-time thing."

The museum operates as a nonprofit organization and will not request regular support from government entities, Wulf responded.

Commissioner Vilnis Gaines said the city has other obligations that need funding, and Mayor Bo Dorough asked, with the museum being considered a "highbrow place," what efforts will be made to be more inclusive of east Albany and South Albany.

"With the needs my constituents have, $8 million is a lot of money," Gaines said.

The museum is looking to form partnerships with organizations such as the Albany Civil Rights Institute, Wulf said.

"By moving to downtown, where everything happens and everything is going to happen, that helps alleviate that opinion," he said, addressing Dorough's question.

Dougherty County voters will vote on extending the current SPLOST for another six years in November.