Museum move downtown pushed back to 2009
By Bret Hayworth SCJournal staff writer
The Sioux City Public Museum won't be moving downtown into the former JCPenney building until 2009.
The project is slowed by an accompanying move into the site by a Northwest Airlines call center, and because the capital campaign to raise money for the anticipated $8 million museum move has yet to begin.
The annual joint meeting of the Sioux City Council and Museum Board of Trustees yielded some new information, including that the move by the Northwest Airlines call center has impacted the timing of the museum's move.
Board member Denny Bullock said there is "frustration" that the museum, now at 2901 Jackson St., is not moving in 2008 as expected, since the board is eager to begin a fundraising campaign for the project. While museum director Steve Hansen said the Northwest move into the same site "has slowed us down," he said that was a minor inconvenience.
"It isn't a big deal in the grand scheme, because we always knew we would need a neighbor," Hansen said.
"We aren't frustrated at all," board president Ed Lord said a bit later.
"You are getting a new museum," city manager Paul Eckert said.
"How bad can that be?" added Bullock, ending the line of conversation.
Eckert said Northwest will take possession of its portion of the Penney building in October and has six months after that to start up the call center.
Councilman Dave Ferris said "everyone recognizes" the importance of the 350 Northwest Airlines call center jobs. Ferris described serving on a confidential committee last year as Northwest spoke with city officials about a possible move, even as he knew it might impact the museum plans that were also moving forward.
Even with Northwest locating on the top floor of the three-story building at 607 Fourth St., there is plenty of space for the museum, Hansen said. The museum will spread out over 55,000 square feet on the main floor and roughly 17,000 feet of the second floor, providing four times the space as the existing museum.
"It will more than meet our current needs and allow us to grow," Hansen said. "You don't have to fill it up all at once."
The larger museum would allow the numerous off-site museum collections at Pearl Street Research Center, 407 Pearl St., to move into the museum.
Surrounded by sacred pipe and flaked stone tool exhibits, the city councilmen and board members met on the third floor of the museum, where Hansen told of some of the exhibits being readied for the move. A second floor exhibit of stuffed wild animals had been at the same site for at least 35 years, he said.
"It gave new meaning to the term 'permanent exhibit,'" Hansen said.
Hansen said things will begin to move ahead within 60 days, when conceptual museum plans are due back from Neumann Monson Wictor of Sioux City and Bahr Vermeer Haecker Architects of Lincoln. Once those are done, the museum should be moved within 18 months, placing the move at mid-2009.
Hansen said the early projection is that the fundraising amount will be $8 million, although he said he didn't want to set that in stone. The city's current Capital Improvements Program is to devote $1.5 million to the project, so the majority of the museum move cost will be paid through fundraising. Hansen said a "quiet phase" of fundraising will soon begin, with the public fundraising likely to launch in 2008.
Board member Ray Krigsten said he's ready to get the museum fundraising under way. Krigsten said he is too frequently reading the obituaries of people he anticipated asking for donations.
The museum being vacated is known as the historic Peirce Mansion. It will be converted back into a period home to be operated by the Sioux City Historical Association, and will have strong appeal for visitors, Hansen said.
JCPenney, the downtown's largest retailer at the time, moved to Southern Hills Mall in 2004. Larry Book, one of the owners of the Penney building, did not immediately return a call Wednesday.
Bret Hayworth may be reached at (712) 293.4203 or firstname.lastname@example.org