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Jewish museum plans move

November 18, 2005|From Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — The National Museum of American Jewish History on Thursday announced plans to build a new facility that it hopes will raise the museum's profile and quadruple the number of annual visitors.

The plans call for acquiring and razing a building on a prime corner of Independence Mall, located half a block from the museum's current downtown location.

Museum director Gwen Goodman would not disclose the price of the building, which now houses two television stations and two radio stations. The sale should close in June, she said.

The stations have not announced plans to relocate.

Goodman expects the building to be demolished in the spring of 2007. The museum would move about two years later into the new facility, which would be 80,000 square feet to 100,000 square feet.

Its current 15,000-square-foot home has only 2,600 square feet of exhibition space. It accommodates 50,000 to 65,000 visitors annually.

"We have to turn down a lot of exhibits that are offered to us because we don't have the space for them," Goodman said.

With a more prominent location within a block of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, the new place could attract 250,000 people in its first year, Goodman said.

Officials at the museum -- an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution -- are in the midst of a $100-million fundraising campaign in anticipation of the project.

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