Wednesday, October 01, 2014

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Staten Island Museum Plans Move Into Historic Digs

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One of the city's very first landmarked buildings is getting nearly a complete interior renovation before the Staten Island Museum moves in later this year. NY1's Bree Driscoll filed the following report.

An ornate, four story staircase is the only original item inside the Snug Harbor Cultural Center building dating back to 1879 when it was a place of rest for weary mariners.

"It has been a feat that you can turn what used to be a dormitory for sailors into a world class museum," said Staten Island Museum COO Cheryl Adolph.

Snug Harbor became a city, state and federal landmarked site in 1965, with help from the Staten Island Museum. Now the museum is relocating there while keeping its smaller location near the ferry terminal.

It's a move almost 50 years in the making.

"We are a smaller museum in New York City but we have been around just as long as almost anybody has been. So we are an old time museum that we are a general interest collection. So we do art, science and history. There is no other museum that does that," said Staten Island Museum Director of Exhibitions and Programs Diane Matyas.

Right now the space is filled with drywall and flooring but it is quickly being transformed into Staten Island's first "green" historic landmark. It's using the earth's natural temperature to keep things comfortable for museum-goers.

"There are 30 wells almost 500 feet deep to do this super ecological heating and cooling," Adolph said.

Organizers say it is an exciting time to be on Staten Island's north shore.

"We are really proud that we are going to help anchor this site as a cultural destination especially in light of the New York Wheel coming," Adolph said.

The city allocated almost $27 million to renovate the building but now the museum needs to fundraise to outfit it exhibitions and galleries.

"We are well on our way. We have a new match from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Over the next three years if we raise $1.2 million we will receive an additionally $400,000," Adolph said.

"We will expand to be able to show our collections that people have never seen for the most part. Many pieces have been in storage," Matyas said.

Construction is expected to be complete by the summer and the museum will be open to the public this fall.

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