Becker County museum on target for fall move-in
Construction is on schedule, and Becker County Museum staff plan to move into the new building in October.
DETROIT LAKES — Sparks are flying at the construction site of the new Becker County Historical Society and Museum.
As welders worked outside on the frame of the building last Friday, April 8, Becky Mitchell, the museum’s executive director, was inside, drawing up rough sketches of where the museum's exhibits would be placed in the new facility.
“It started as a dream and turned into a necessity,” she said of the big construction project, noting that it's been about two decades in the making.
Work on the $7 million, three-story museum began in late May of 2021. The plan is to move into the new digs this October.
“I think the current building is about 15,000-square-feet, with about half that amount being usable space,” Mitchell said. “The new museum will be more than 30,000-square-feet, with a full basement to hold collections.”
Mitchell said that, when reviewing renovation options for the current building, the high cost made a new, larger building more viable. The project was pitched to area communities, and many financially supported the project, along with private donors. Several years after the fundraising campaign kicked off, building plans were created, bids went out and construction began.
Mitchell said the estimated project cost has increased over time, mostly due to inflation and the rising cost of materials. That means fundraising has continued.
“I feel like we’ve been needing another $150,000 the past few years," she said. "We’ve met the goal three or four times.”
When the current building is demolished, it will be made into a parking lot for the new museum.
“We have to move out of the current building in late May,” Mitchell said. “We are not slated to take occupancy of the new building until October.”
The four museum employees and its dozen volunteers are preparing for the interim by packing up artifacts to be hauled to a secure, temporary location.
“A lot of steps, is what it comes down to,” Mitchell said of the move, noting that anyone interested in volunteering can visit the museum website to see if any of the museum's needs suit their interests.