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Meeting of the Board of Regents | June 2007

Friday, June 15, 2007 - 11:00pm

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Cultural Education Trusteeship Committee


Jeffrey Cannell                               


Status of Gallery Renewal & New Stewardship Facility



June 15, 2007







Issue for Discussion


The Museum has proposed three new galleries; Empire State: America Begins in New York, and, Changes:  A Billion Years of Natural History of New York and has received an appropriation of $20 million to implement the proposals.  Gallagher and Associates is working with the Museum, Archives, and Library staff and external content and exhibition experts to develop these major new exhibitions telling the human and natural history of New York.


Exhibit development, planning and installation are expected to take three years.  The Museum does not have the capacity to plan and design two new galleries while continuing its temporary exhibition and exhibit maintenance program.  The Museum is working with this experienced museum exhibit planning and design firm, one that has completed projects similar in scope and subject matter and will spend the next three years developing these exhibitions.  The museum will remain open throughout the renewal.


The Office of Cultural Education is also working closely with the Office of General Services on the initial stages for procurement of land for the new Stewardship Facility.  The $60 million appropriation in this fiscal year will initiate the first phase of construction of a multi-phased approach to re-house our collections and eventually our research labs.


Proposed Handling


The June 2007 meeting of the Trusteeship Committee will focus on issues related to use of the Cultural Education Trust to continue the Gallery renewal and the construction of a new Stewardship Facility.  We will also review the status to date on progress of initial work plans and preliminary work. 


Procedural History


The Museum master plan for exhibitions was presented to the Regents in 1999 and progress toward implementation reported periodically to the Cultural Education Committee and to the full Board.  The selection of an exhibition planning and design firm was completed in early 2006 to expedite the planning and design process, thus saving at least one year in the implementation of the renewal.  The firm of Gallagher and Associates is now working with the museum to realize the projects.


At the February 2007 meeting, the Cultural Education Committee discussed their role in relation to the Cultural Education Trust.  While the Cultural Education Trust Board has specific oversight for the Gallery renewal and the construction of the Stewardship Facility, the Cultural Education Committee has an ongoing stewardship responsibility for the collections of Cultural Education that goes beyond the responsibilities of the Trust Board.


Background Information


Last year’s executive budget made $20 million available for the Gallery renewal.  In this year’s executive budget, an additional $60 million is now available for the construction of a new Stewardship Facility.  Along with the funding authorization, the bill called for the establishment of a Cultural Education Trust, with a Board of five persons. 


Of the five members, the Governor and each branch of the legislature appoint one member.  The Board includes two Regents:  the Chancellor serves as Chair, however revised legislation stated the Chancellor can designate his position of chair to another Regents member.  The Commissioner appointed Regent Karen Brooks Hopkins.  The Governor has appointed John Egan, and the Senate Majority Leader has appointed Professor Jeffrey Kraus.  The appointee from the Assembly is still pending. 


Museum Gallery Renewal:  Gallagher and Associates have established a national reputation as a professional design services firm. They have created outstanding visitor experiences and graphic packages for public and private museums through out the United States and abroad.  One of their biggest strengths are the experienced project management teams that coordinate exhibit and graphic designers, architects, museum planners, 3-D modelers and computer assisted designers.  Gallagher and Associates have completed large scale projects for the National Museum of Natural History, the National Museum of American History, the New Mexico History Museum, the National Museum of the United States Army, Oakland Museum of Natural History and many others.


At your meeting, we will update you on activities related to both the Gallery renewal and the Stewardship Facility and seek your guidance on issues associated with the projects.





The Regents should direct the staff in development of information needed in advance of the Cultural Education Trust Board’s recommendations.  They should also direct the staff in development of pending Trust Board discussions and meetings, so that long-term decisions remain under the auspices of the Board of Regents.


The Regents should also recommend endorsement of the overall direction and scope of the master plan.


Timetable for Implementation


  • Museum Gallery Master Plan: 50% Review, July 2007, Complete October 2007.
  • Natural History Gallery - open May 2010
  • Native Peoples of New York Expansion - open June 2010
  • The Empire State - open July 2010.
  • Stewardship Facility Land Review and purchase - anticipated completion fall 2007.