The Danish Immigrant Museum has announced its selection of a general contractor in its curatorial center project and intends to celebrate the milestone and groundbreaking on Monday, August 26 at 2:30 p.m. with a shovel ceremony and coffee and kringle reception for the public.
Last week, museum board members voted to proceed with the project and selected general contractor Meco-Henne Contracting out of Omaha, NE. Excavation work will begin as soon as possible, with the ultimate goal of the structure’s completion by the Danish Villages’ Tivoli Fest next Memorial Day weekend.
Support for the $3 million project ($2 million for the construction and $1 million for endowment investment) is coming from museum members and donors, two Omaha foundations including the Peter Kiewit Foundation, the State Historical Society of Iowa, and four major bequest gifts. The most significant bequest gift is from the estate of Richard Hellman, Atlantic native and son of Danish immigrants Peter and Karen Hellman.
Planning for the curatorial center was initiated in 2011 through a Conservation Assessment Program grant from the Institute for Museum and Library Services and a gift from Bill and Berniece Grewcock of Omaha. The museum currently rents four off-site storage facilities to house artifacts. The new center will allow for the consolidation of those facilities and provide the benefits of greater security, climate control, and proximity for the museum’s collection.
In addition to compact artifact storage, the facility will include areas for artifact cataloging, photography, exhibit creation, and staff and intern office space. The 8,000 sq. ft. expansion will be located below ground on the west side of the present building, accessible by staff through the lower level of the museum.
The museum’s Curator of Collections and Registrar Angela Stanford commented, “This curatorial center will allow us the space to house, care for, and work with our collection as it continues to grow. It will afford us greater flexibility in the types – and sizes – of artifacts we acquire. We are thrilled about this expansion!”
Museum staff and interns have boxed up fragile artifacts including porcelain and glass to protect those items from building vibrations caused by heavy equipment that could potentially damage them. The museum will remain open for the duration of the project.
The Danish Immigrant Museum was founded in 1983 as a national center for the Danish-American community and to preserve the history of Danish immigration to America. Reminiscent of rural Danish architecture, the museum building was completed in 1994 and houses a collection of around 40,000 artifacts important to the interpretation of the Danish immigration story.
The museum’s collection is diverse and wide-ranging. There are family heirlooms brought from Denmark, examples of needlework, tools of early immigrant tradesmen and memorabilia from Danish-American clubs and organizations. Many of the items have been passed down through the generations in Danish families. In recent years the museum has focused on a more contemporary collection with the accession of artifacts from the late 20th century.
The museum is open daily just west of Elk Horn. More information about the museum can be found on their website, www.danishmuseum.org or by calling (712) 764-7001.