Fundraising campaign underway for Becker County museum; construction set to begin in spring
About $500,000 in donations is still needed for museum that will be attached to the Historic Holmes Theater.
Though winter is just getting underway, staff and volunteers at the Becker County Museum are already looking ahead to next spring, when construction of a new $6.4 million museum building is slated to get underway.
"We're excited to get started," said the museum's executive director, Becky Mitchell.
But before that can happen, about $500,000 in donations is still needed — and Judy Brenna, president of Chapter FG of the Philanthropic Educational Organization, said the local nonprofit hoped to "jump start" the final stage of public fundraising for the project by cutting a check for $200, which they presented to the museum this past week.
"No donation is too large, or too small," said Mitchell after Brenna handed her the check on Tuesday, Oct. 27. She added that she is grateful for the amount of public and private support that they have received thus far.
Mitchell noted that the museum's board of directors would really like to have the full amount of funding for the project raised by the time bids are let for the new 30,000 square foot building. "Our architect has scheduled that (the bid letting) for late January or early February," she said, adding that while no official date for the bid opening has been set, they will need to stick to that tentative schedule in order to break ground in the spring.
If the timeline holds, she added, they plan to be moved in and ready to welcome visitors by spring 2022. "It's a 10-to-12 month project," Mitchell said.
Preliminary preparations for construction of the museum are already underway. The lobby of the Historic Holmes Theatre, which will be attached to the new museum via a shared entrance, box office and gift shop area, is in the process of undergoing a $332,000 facelift .
Once the entire project is finished, the renovated lobby's new upper-level balcony/walkway will lead directly into the new museum. Because that project also includes a new main staircase and other renovations that were incorporated into the project specifically to accommodate social distancing and other COVID-19 safety precautions, the bulk of it is being funded by a $290,000 federal CARES (Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security) Act grant from Becker County, which has also committed up to $1 million of its own funding toward the project.
Other major contributors include the state of Minnesota, which has allocated $1.85 million in bond funding for the project that was recently approved by the Minnesota Legislature; and the city of Detroit Lakes, which has committed up to $500,000.
Mitchell added that the project to build a new county museum has been almost two decades in the making. "It started as a dream, and has turned into a necessity," she said, adding that the current museum building at 714 Summit Ave. has too many structural deficiencies — some due to age/deterioration, some to space limitations, and others due to constantly evolving technology and accessibility needs — to make renovation financially feasible.
Once the new facility is finished, the current museum building will be razed to make room for additional parking to accommodate the adjoining museum, theater and community center facilities (the Holmes Theatre is part of the existing Detroit Lakes Community & Cultural Center complex, which was completed in 2002).
For more information about the Becker County Museum and its fundraising campaign, visit beckercountyhistory.org .
About the Philanthropic Educational Organization
Founded on Jan. 21, 1869, by seven students at Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa, the Philanthropic Educational Organization is an education-focused, international philanthropic organization committed to celebrating the advancement of women and providing them with scholarships, grants, awards and loans to further their education. They also own and maintain Cottey College, an independent, baccalaureate-granting liberal arts and sciences institution in Missouri. The organization has two chapters, FG and DQ, that are located in the Detroit Lakes area. For more information, visit www.peointernational.org .