2015 Marshals Museum budget to cover architecture, exhibit design work

story by Ryan Saylor
rsaylor@thecitywire.com

The U.S. Marshals Museum's Finance Committee advanced a proposed $3.176 million budget Tuesday (June 3) that includes funding for architecture and exhibit design for the museum.

According to Marshals Museum President and CEO Jim Dunn, the proposed budget includes $1.6 million for a three phase architectural design phase to take place during fiscal year 2015, as well as $808,000 for three phases of exhibit design.

The exhibit design has been awarded to Brent Johnson design of Boston, Dunn said, while the museum is in contract negotiations with Polk Stanley Wilcox of Little Rock and Cambridge Seven and Associations of Cambridge, Mass., for architecture design the firms will complete for the museum.

Beyond the combined $2.408 million in design fees included in next year's budget, Dunn said an additional $768,000 has been budgeted for operations for the year. The budget will come up for a vote before the annual meeting of the Marshals Museum's board of directors on June 10.

With design work soon expected to get underway, Dunn said the museum still plans to officially break ground on Sept. 24, with a targeted opening date of 2017.

"We hope to have some preliminary conceptual designs from exhibit designers later this year," he said, adding that the conceptual drawings will give the public its first glimpse into the long-awaited museum to be built along the banks of the Arkansas River.

But Dunn said breaking ground and hiring designers does not signify the end of the museum's fundraising efforts. Quite the opposite, in fact.

"We still have a lot of money (to raise). Just because we're breaking ground doesn't mean the job is done. Still a lot (to raise) and a lot in the pipeline."

When reached for comment Tuesday, Dunn said he could not recall exactly how much the museum had raised to date, though he said fundraising has continued in order to break ground as expected in September.

He said in August 2013 that the museum would need to raise an additional $10 million to $15 million "to reach the 'threshold' of between $30 million and $35 million needed to break ground and begin construction. Dunn is also banking on new market tax credits for partial funding of the museum, which he said should bring in nearly $10 million."

The museum is also counting on banking $4 million to $5 million on the sale of commemorative U.S. Marshals Service coins to be marketed by the U.S. Mint.

Dunn said the overall cost of the building itself was in excess of $50 million, but said up to this point the figure was just an estimate without hard data to back it up. With the money set aside to pay the design firms, he said the numbers should start coming together to better reflect the final totals that need to be raised in order for the museum to be completed on time.

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"The capital goal is $50 million. We've still got startup, staffing and expenses and operations and fundraising fees in addition to that. What we're going to be able to do reasonably soon is now that we have exhibit designers under contract and architects almost under contract, we'll be able to work on a budget instead of project goals."

The June 10 meeting of the Marshals Museum board will take place at the River Park Events Building, 121 Riverfront Drive, at 11 a.m.

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