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Proposed $71 Million Art Museum Coming To Penn State Arboretum

Penn State’s Board of Trustees agreed Friday to hire architectural firm Allied Works for a project that would bring a brand new $71 million art museum to the university. The museum, which is expected to be completed by 2022, could be as large as 73,000 square feet.

Allied Works is internationally recognized for its work at academic art museums and art schools at higher-education institutions. Some of the firm’s previous work includes the Contemporary Art Museum in St. Louis, the Seattle Art Museum, the Museum of Art and Design in New York City, and the University of Michigan’s Museum of Art, among others.

The new museum would replace the Palmer Museum and would be placed at the Arboretum in the open area near the botanical gardens. Under the plan presented by President Barron, this building would be part of the first of a three-phase process to create a “cultural district” at Penn State. The second and third phases would include a science and technology museum, as well as a museum that combines science, technology, and art.

The existing Palmer Museum will still exist as a space for students. The new art museum will not retain the Palmer name however, the Palmer legacy will still have a large role in the new facility.

“The project would fulfill our long-standing vision of the Arboretum as a venue for the arts as well as a place of beauty and education about the natural world,” Kim Steiner, professor of forest biology and director of the Arboretum, said in a release.

The university recently received two large art donations from Barbara Palmer and John Driscoll. Palmer, who passed away in January, left her collection of 19th to early 20th-century American art to the museum, and Driscoll donated 140 American drawings dated from 1795 to 1950.

Director of the Palmer Museum Erin Coe said the current museum is running out of space. It has expanded from 3,500 pieces when it opened in 1993 to 9,400 today. The new museum would allow for a much greater display space for visitors as well as the opportunity to combine some other smaller art museums on campus.

The price tag could expand to $85 million through successful fundraising efforts. President Barron and his wife have already donated $100,000 to the project.

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About the Author

Ryen Gailey

Ryen is a senior early childhood education major from "right outside of Philly" - or in exact words, from 23.0 miles outside of Philly. She loves all things Penn State and has been a huge Penn State gal since before she could walk. Send her pictures of puppies, or hate mail at [email protected]

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