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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Regents consider Arizona State Museum expansion

    Third-year volunteer museum interpreter Phil Davis admires the Arizona State Museums collection of traditional and nontraditional masks of the Southwest. The museum, which has more than 10,000 historical artifacts, may expand downtown as part of the Rio Nuevo project in early 2009.
    Third-year volunteer museum interpreter Phil Davis admires the Arizona State Museum’s collection of traditional and nontraditional masks of the Southwest. The museum, which has more than 10,000 historical artifacts, may expand downtown as part of the Rio Nuevo project in early 2009.

    The Arizona Board of Regents will vote this week on a proposal to expand the Arizona State Museum downtown within the Rio Nuevo project.

    Beth Grindall, associate director for the Arizona State Museum, said the main benefit of the $62 million expansion plan is that it will allow the museum more room to display antique treasures.

    “”We have artifacts that represent the first 10,000 years of Arizona’s history,”” Grindall said.

    President Robert Shelton said he believes there are many advantages to expanding the museum into downtown.

    “”First, the expansion will allow us added visibility in that area of Tucson,”” Shelton said. “”Additionally, the museum will be complimentary to other programs and activities that will be offered there.””

    The Arizona State Museum expansion would be located next to the UA Science Center and the Arizona Historical Society around the central plaza south of West Cushing Street on West Clearwater Drive, Grindall said.

    Shelton said the expansion will be a great access point for children from kindergarten through 12th grade to learn about Arizona and Arizona history.

    Right now, the plan is in its beginning phase. If the proposal is passed at the board of regents meeting, Grindall said that construction could begin as soon as January 2009.

    “”The museum would like to open its downtown expansion for public view in 2011,”” Grindall said.

    The exhibits downtown will be completely new, Grindall added, including an exhibit that will showcase the path of human migration.

    Regent Fred Boice, a Tucsonan, said the expansion will be a focal point of Rio Nuevo, which will add to the community as well as attract tourists.

    “”The University of Arizona wants to be embedded in this community, and I think this is a very good way to do it,”” Boice said.

    Joel Valdez, UA senior vice president of business affairs, said the museum expansion will enhance the Rio Nuevo mission.

    “”The downtown museum will tie into the efforts of downtown renewal,”” he said.

    Valdez said the proposal was the culmination of years of planning.

    The museum will staff the expansion with current employees from the university location and will also hire from within the community. Outreach coordinators and volunteer coordinators will also play a big part, Grindall said.

    Price of admission to the museum on campus is a recommended donation, but the downtown price of admission will be about $7, with reduced admission for students, Grindall said.

    Grindall said the Arizona State Museum has been working closely with the city staff to plan for this extension into Rio Nuevo for about three years.

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