Tuesday, November 06, 2001

Museum getting touch-up

Art under wraps for $18M Taft makeover

The Associated Press

        Workers and power tools will replace art patrons for the next 18 months at the Taft Museum of Art while the building undergoes an $18 million renovation designed to double its size.

        The museum was closed to the public Monday for the start of the renovation.

        Project managers estimate that it will take about two months to pack, move and store the art collections. Construction is to start in January, and the museum's management hopes to reopen in the summer of 2003.

$13 million raised
               The museum has already raised about $13 million toward the project's cost, museum director Phillip C. Long said Monday.

        The renovation will add a parking garage, an indoor-outdoor cafe and a lecture/concert hall and modernize the building's heating and electrical systems.

        It is the Taft's first major renovation since the downtown building opened in 1932 as a museum. Before that, it was the home of Charles P. Taft, half-brother of President William H. Taft.

        Charles and his wife, Anna, collected art and had arranged in the 1920s for the art collection and their home to be given to Cincinnati after their deaths. Charles Taft died in 1929; his wife, two years later.

National historic landmark
               The Federal-style house was built in 1820 for Martin Baum, a merchant and banker who was Cincinnati's first millionaire.

        The U.S. Department of the Interior designated the building a national historic landmark in 1976. Mr. Long said the renovation will be done in a way to protect the exterior and historic aspects of the building, a stately white house.

        “We're being minimally invasive to the historic building, other than to the light, heating and electrical systems,” he said.

        Ann Beha Architects, a Boston firm that specializes in renovating historic buildings, designed and is overseeing the project.


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