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Two campus museums to move downtown

By Matthew Muhm
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday Feb. 21, 2002

Arizona State Museum and Flandrau Science Center to 'anchor' new development

Two campus museums will be moving their major public programs off campus by 2008 to become part of the downtown development project, Rio Nuevo.

John Jones, project director with Rio Nuevo, said he expects the Arizona State Museum and Flandrau Science Center and Planetarium to be "anchor tenants" of the project - which will span most of downtown from the east end of Congress Street to west of the Santa Cruz River.

State Museum director George Gumerman said that the building where the museum is housed wasn't originally built as a museum and many collections are being damaged because of unsuitable conditions.

Officials had been looking for ways to expand the museum when the proposition passed and Rio Nuevo got underway.

Gumerman said having the museum on campus is a good way to get children used to a university setting but that parking on and around campus hinders the accessibility of the museum to the general public.

"We want most public programs to move into a place where many people could go," he said. "I want us to be a much more public-oriented institution."

Hartman Lomawaima, associate director of the museum, said it recently hired a museum educator to maintain dialogue with the community.

Gumerman said the museum will maintain administrative and research facilities on campus, but the major exhibitions will move downtown.

Alexis Faust, director of Flandrau, said accessibility was also a factor in Flandrau's decision to move. She said the planetarium has around 130,000 visitors year but estimates that number will grow to around 500,000 after the move.

"Flandrau is a small facility. We can't serve as many people as we'd like," she said. Faust said that the new space will be100,000 square feet as opposed to the 28,000 square feet they have now.

Faust said she hopes the new location will serve as a "portal" to bring kids to campus for the other programs that are offered.

Flandrau's move is being headed by a senior advisory board co-chaired by UA president Peter Likins and Professor Peter Eisenberger of Columbia University.

Once moved, Flandrau is planning to change its name to the University of Arizona Science Center and offer exhibits on a wider variety of topics, Faust said.

Faust said that the 20 UA students currently working at Flandrau are an integral part of the programs there and that she hopes the new location and bigger space will allow greater student involvement.

Unlike the State Museum, Flandrau will move 100 percent of its facilities to the location and will not retain any offices on the UA campus.

Jones, project director with Rio Nuevo, said there are to be two phases of development. The first phase is to last until 2005 and the second until 2010. Flandrau is expected to be part of phase one and open to the public in its new location by 2005 and The State Museum is to be ready by 2007 or 2008.


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