Dec. 3 — LEWISTON – A new start for Museum LA has been in the works for years, but officials say “the time is now” for the rollout of a fundraising campaign and new branding that hopes to position the museum as a cultural landmark for the Region.
Rachel Ferrante, the museum’s new executive director, told Auburn officials last month that part of the rebranding will include a name change and a new “brand identity that will expand the museum’s appeal and s’ will address a diverse audience “.
Ferrante and other museum officials were in Auburn for a presentation to local governments, hoping to raise some of the $ 17 million needed to build the new museum in the old Camden Yarns mill on Beech Street, by the Lewiston River.
During the city council workshop, Ferrante said that the new museum, with its ambitious design, can become a destination for the region, boosting economic development from employment and tourism.
The 36,000 square foot museum, designed by Platz Associates, will include large spaces for a permanent collection and temporary galleries, classrooms, a cafe and restaurant, a design lab and more.
Ferrante became the new executive director of Museum LA in September. She graduated from Bates College and has spent the last decade working at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. She told Auburn officials that she returned to the area to raise a family and chose to run the new museum, “because of what I think he can do for this area.”
Ferrante said Thursday that “the cultural and economic value of a new museum is clear”, and believes that it “will become an icon of heritage history”.
She cited examples of successful museums with similar roles as “icons of cities and heritage,” such as the Mill City Museum in Minneapolis-St. Paul and the John Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh.
The new building took a long time to come, with the museum taking over ownership of Camden Yarns Mill in June 2009. It was only 10 years later that the museum board selected Platz Associates to design the new museum on the site, which is adjacent to Simard-Payne Memorial Park.
Tom Platz addressed Auburn council in November, saying the Twin Cities are at a “real crossroads”, with a tremendous opportunity to create something that draws people to the area. He said if people look around Maine, other prosperous areas have a cultural appeal that draws people there.
The new museum could be a “first-class museum with major cultural events,” he said. “This is the first opportunity I see, I think we have the opportunity to do something like this.”
The museum is asking the city to approve a $ 1.5 million donation to the fundraising campaign, which would come from the city’s American Rescue Plan Act funds. He hopes to raise a total of $ 4.5 million from local governments and will present details of the campaign to officials in Lewiston on Tuesday.
Lewiston has allocated all of its ARPA funds to infrastructure projects. Auburn City Manager Phil Crowell said allocating funds to a nonprofit is allowed under ARPA, as long as the nonprofit meets the same requirements. from the program. He said that means the money must be spent by 2024, with the project being completed by 2026.
The museum would also fall under the economic development goals of funding.
Ferrante said the museum sees the two cities as partners and the two mayors have been invited to sit on the museum’s board from 2022. Ferrante said she also presented to county commissioners in Androscoggin on November 17th and that she was feeling good about the two meetings so far.
The remaining money should be collected from federal and state sources, major donors, foundations and the general fundraising campaign. About $ 1 million was raised.
If the fundraising campaign is successful, Ferrante said they hope to pave the way in the spring of 2023, with a promising opening in the spring or summer of 2024.
Other Auburn officials have said the new museum is part of Auburn’s long-term strategies and could provide an “anchor” for pedestrian connections to Bonney Park, Moulton Park and the Little community theater nearby.
Councilor Katie Boss called the plan “a critical and valuable vision beyond tourism and income.”
She said that when she moved to the area eight years ago, she looked at Google Maps to find points of interest and that one of the first places she visited was the LA Museum.
“It made me feel grounded and I bought a house and raised a family here,” she said.