Museum seeks public input on upcoming renovation | ParkRecord.com

Museum seeks public input on upcoming renovation

MATT JAMES, Of the Record staff

While the Park City Historical Society and Museum renovation is still in the future, the museum has recently expanded, taking over the space at 518 Main Street. Photo credit: Grayson West/Park Record.

The Park City Historical Society and Museum has a vast collection of artifacts from old store signs and carriages to cash registers. The organization, however, has long lacked the space necessary to display all of those wares. But that is changing. The museum now has a new display up in its space at 518 Main Street.

"A lot of it is from different stores on Main Street," said Sandra Morrison, the Historical Society and Museum’s executive director.

Among the more distinctive items is a huge lighted "MEAT" sign that once hung in front of the butcher’s shop formerly located almost directly across from the museum. Morrison said the sign might have been one of the first of its kind on Main Street. The patent is from 1902.

"What we have there is a kind of peon storage space," said Morrison.

"The space," she noted, "will continue to evolve for the next couple of months as we work on our plan for the expansion."

The Park City Museum is currently planning its upcoming renovation, which will give the facility a completely new look. In November, the museum named the architects and exhibit designers for the project, Mark Cavagnero Associates and West Office Exhibition Design, respectively and, more recently, the museum cut a hole in its wall to make a passageway to the new space.

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Now, the nonprofit wants the public’s input. To find what people want from the museum, the organization hired an Alexandria, Va., based firm, Randi Korn & Associates, which will visit Park City this weekend to talk to the museum’s users.

"It’s called a front end evaluation," said Morrison. "Basically it provides the exhibit development team with information about our visitors and what they want."

The evaluation process is funded by a $150,000 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services. Randi Korn & Associates will be at the museum this Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.

The interviews will test the museum’s assumptions of what people want, help find more information and offer an opportunity to present new ideas to Park City’s residents and visitors. According to Morrison, the sessions shouldn’t involve many more than half a dozen questions.

"I don’t imagine the interviews will last more than 10 to 15 minutes," she said.

She also noted that while the museum will likely see its usual share of tourists, Parkites should come out as well.

"We know we’ll have plenty of visitors from out of town, but we’d like to see as many locals as we can," Morrison said.

The interview sessions at the museum will be the first opportunity for the general public to offer input, but there will be others. Morrison estimated that the planning and design process would take another year. There is no set date for the project’s completion. At this point, Morrison said too many factors can affect the project.

"I think the one that really hit home for me was cutting the hole in the wall," she said.

Originally, the museum thought that installing the passageway between the museum’s current space and its expansion would be fairly easy. However, to actually accomplish the project, contractors had to fabricate a steel brace to maintain the buildings’ structural integrity and then cut through 17 inches of brick.

"It took us a couple months," said Morrison. "There was some wood in there that was burned from the great fire in 1898."

But now, she noted, the passageway and the new space is open to the public, and even ahead of the renovation, the facility is seeing more visitors than ever.

"The museum," said Morrison, "is incredibly busy."

Attendance was up 21 percent last month, compared to 2005, and March has followed suit. As of Monday, the museum had already entertained 7,134 people for the month, more than a hundred more that in all of March last year.

Morrison just hopes some locals will come out to give their input.

"One of our principal goals with the new exhibition space," she said, "is to connect to our local community."

For more information about the Park City Historical Society and Museum, visit http://www.parkcityhistory.org. For more info about the public input sessions this weekend, call 649-7457.

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