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

April 19 – ALBANY – The Albany Museum of Art projected funding to renovate the old Belk building for its downtown move would cost nearly $35 million, and on Tuesday a representative asked an $8 million contribution to the city of Albany.

Museum executive director Andrew Wulf made the request for funding under the upcoming special-use local option sales tax initiative during a business session of the Albany City Commission.

The timeline to move 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 museum’s space from 25,000 square feet to 53 000 square feet, is up to 60 months.

“A principal donation from Albany would be demonstrative and significant,” Wulf told the commissioners. “Your investment will set the pace for others to join and invest in the community.

“Our museum in Albany connects with individuals and communities to inspire curiosity, appreciation, understanding, and passion for art and creative thought. We engage diverse experiences and perspectives in our audiences through exhibitions , events, collections preservation, research and educational programs that impact 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 a range of sizes and mediums, expanded event and classroom space, state-of-the-art collection storage for the permanent collection of the museum, studio space for artists in residence, media systems to support new and emerging art, a cafe and museum shop, and an outdoor sculpture garden.

Among the questions for Wulf was one from curator Jalen Johnson, who asked if the museum would seek additional funds for its operations.

“That’s a lot of money,” he said. “The assumption is that it’s a one-time thing.”

The museum operates as a non-profit organization and will not seek regular support from government entities, Wulf responded.

Commissioner Vilnis Gaines said the city has other obligations that require funding, and Mayor Bo Dorough asked, with the museum seen as a ‘scholarly place’, what efforts will be made to be more inclusive in the east of Albany and south of Albany.

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

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

“Moving downtown, where everything happens and everything is going to happen, helps to mitigate that view,” he said, answering Dorough’s question.

Dougherty County voters will vote to extend the current SPLOST for another six years in November.

Aurora J. William