When it comes to visitors, a new entrance at the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art might make all the difference.
On Aug. 2, the museum’s employees, board members and city officials gathered to break ground on what’s being called a driveway accessibility project.
“We’re finally going to put in a driveway that will allow tour buses to make that grade. It’s a little steep ... and they get stuck,” Eric Fuson, executive director of the Albrecht-Kemper Museum of Art, said.
According to the museum, the project will shift the driveway entrance to the northwest corner of the lot, straightening and re-grading the slope to the street. In addition to tour buses, the new driveway will expand access for emergency-response vehicles, including fire and ambulance services.
It’s a project that’s been about 25 years in the making, a point made by board members like Dick DeShon and Marcy George.
“It has been a dream for years and I am thrilled to see this finally happen,” George, the museum’s board president, said.
The project will cost about $300,000, which was raised with the help of DeShon and several donors. The money also will be used to repave the museum’s parking lot as well as establish new signage to give the facility more visibility.
“This would have never been possible without all the donors who considered this truly a great project and helped us get the work done,” George said.
The project is the start of several undertakings for the museum in the coming months. Museum officials also will install a public art piece, “Helio,” a 15-foot metal sculpture by Gower, Missouri, artist Brent Collins.
In the short tenure that Fuson has been serving as the executive director, he said it’s been an exciting time to be at the museum.
“I grew up with this museum as an artist too and teaching art and everything else. I just know the value inside and out of what this really does for the community as you put it out to other people,” he said.
Having welcomed people from various places, Fuson said he’s heard the museum referred to many times as a “hidden jewel.” With a completion date of the early fall for the driveway project, he hopes it won’t be a secret for much longer.
“I think this project is really going to be able to bring some of that tourism to the city. It’s going to open those doors that have been a little bit more unexposed,” he said.