ROCKLAND, Maine — The William A. Farnsworth Library and Art Museum plans to undertake a multimillion dollar renovation project for both its downtown Rockland campus and the historic Olson House in Cushing.
“This a transformative moment for the museum,” David Troup, museum communications officer, said Thursday.
Troup said there is a lot of work that needs to be done on the buildings. He said the community has been tremendous in contributing to the museum but much of that funding has been earmarked for education or other programs. He said infrastructure projects have not been addressed for the past 10 years.
Christopher Brownawell, Farnsworth executive director, said the cost of the renovation projects have not yet been finalized.
But Farnsworth Real Estate Inc., a new nonprofit created to allow the museum to get financing, took out mortgages totaling $12 million effective Wednesday, according to paperwork filed in the Knox County registry of deeds. The museum properties were transferred from the Farnsworth Museum to Farnsworth Real Estate on March 16. Troup said the actions were required to get financing.
Brownawell said some members of the museum board will be on the board of Farnsworth Real Estate.
Renovation work will begin next week, Troup said.
The project will include new roofs for the main museum, as well as the Moorehouse Wing. The entire Rockland campus will have its heating systems replaced so that instead of oil, they will be fueled by liquid propane. This switch is expected to save 25 to 30 percent annually on fuel costs for the museum, he said.
The floors of the museum’s exhibit spaces also will be redone.
Funding also has been allocated to the continuation of the museum’s educational program “Stories of the Land and its People.” Now in its fourth year, the project has expanded from 140 to 260 local students. Participating schools include fourth and seventh-grade classes from Appleton, Hope, Islesboro, Lincolnville, and Rockland’s South School and District Middle School. This yearlong arts integrated initiative for midcoast public schools has students working with museum educators, professional artists, classroom teachers, art teachers and community members to tell the story of their community through art.
The Wyeth Center will have considerable work done on it, including new windows and drainage improvements.
The Olson House will have considerable work done both to the exterior and the interior.
The project received financing through Maine’s New Markets Tax Incentive Program allocated by CEI Capital Management LLC and federal New Markets Tax Credit funds that were allocated by the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation of Boston with the investment of U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation.
“The Farnsworth would like to thank CEI Capital Management LLC, the Massachusetts Housing Investment Corporation and U.S. Bancorp CDC for their investment, and for recognizing the Farnsworth Art Museum as the economic engine for this community,” said Christopher J. Brownawell, director of the museum. “The allocation of these funds will allow the Farnsworth to undertake vital capital improvements to almost all of our properties, ensuring stability for the museum for years to come.