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LONG BEACH : Art Museum Weighs Move to Promenade

February 23, 1995|JOHN POPE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Officials at the Long Beach Museum of Art have unveiled the latest plan in their long quest to move from the cramped brick-and-wood house on Ocean Boulevard to a larger facility.

This time, officials are considering a sprawling three-story building once occupied by Thrift Village, a secondhand store, on The Promenade downtown. The store at 218 The Promenade closed last year.

Museum officials have asked the city's Redevelopment Agency to purchase the building, valued at about $1.9 million, and donate it to the museum. Officials said they hope to raise $6 million through donations to pay for the move and various renovations, including the addition of a theater.

Redevelopment board members expressed enthusiasm for the plan, but said they need to study the matter further before deciding.

"This is obviously a legitimate request, so now it's a matter of determining the feasibility," said board member Donald Westerland. "We didn't hear a lot of details and specifics."

Since 1950, the art museum has occupied a two-story Bluff Park structure that was once the summer residence of a philanthropist.

Because of space constraints, most of the museum's permanent 1,500-piece collection of paintings and sculptures is in a Los Angeles warehouse.

The proposed move would allow the museum to quadruple its floor space and offer more parking and greater access by public transportation, Nelson said.

During the first phase, galleries and a large glass lobby and ticket area would be built. In the second phase, an annex for additional gallery space would be built on an adjacent city-owned parking lot. The final phase calls for construction of a 250-seat theater as well as an outdoor sculpture garden to host the museum's summer concert series.

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