No decision on future of Gardner Museum, closed since March

The Gardner Museum of Architecture and Design
Posted: Jan. 14, 2013 10:05 am Updated: Jan. 28, 2013 11:15 am

Herald-Whig Staff Writer

The status of the Gardner Museum of Architecture and Design continues to remain unchanged since it shut its doors in March.

The Historical Society of Quincy and Adams County is maintaining the building while speaking with groups that may be interested in occupying a portion of it, leaving some exhibition space available for the public.

"We have the heat on to preserve the artifacts in the building, and we still have security in the building," said Reg Ankrom, executive director of the historical society.

The historical society originally set aside funds to maintain the building through October 2012, but was able to stretch the money by reducing operational expenses.

Ankrom said discussions with outside groups on the future of the building have been productive.

"We've been talking to the same folks with a couple of groups," he said. "There's nothing negative in that. It's just a longer process."

A committee established by the historical society presented a number of options to its board in November.

Travis Brown, executive director of the Historic Quincy Business District and co-chairman of the committee, said the ball is in the court of the historical society.

"We presented them with options," he said. "At this point, they decided they were going to wait and see what happens with an angel investor-type of scenario, where somebody comes in and rents not all of the building but all of the space that they need, so it would keep some for them to have gallery space."

The committee hosted a public hearing in June to discuss alternative uses for the building. Suggestions included a Civil War museum, a public-private partnership that would create office space while maintaining gallery space or operating the museum from an endowment -- an idea that was unfeasible, because it would likely take a $1 million endowment to raise operating funds for the interest.

The Gardner Museum, built in 1888, was home to the Quincy Public Library until 1974 before it moved into its current building at Sixth and Jersey. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places and has been designated as a Quincy landmark.

The J.W. Gardner Foundation was a primary benefactor to the museum in recent years, but that relationship ended in 2008. The museum operated on reserves, fundraisers and donations until it closed.