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Building Museums

A Handbook for Small and Midsize Organizations

By Robert Herskovitz, Timothy Glines, and David Grabitske

Publication Year: 2012

Perhaps your museum’s archives have run out of space, or its public programs have outgrown their facility. Perhaps a generous donor or an energetic campaign has provided the funding for a renovation, a new wing, or a new building. Whatever the circumstances, small and midsized museums can find themselves taking on a construction project. But those responsible for seeing that it’s done right—board members, museum professionals, and skilled museum volunteers—are seldom experienced in the high-stakes world of construction management. This handbook outlines the processes and explains the complexities of renovating and building facilities. It highlights what issues to consider and what questions to ask; it outlines steps from needs assessment and project planning to design development, budgeting, construction, and, finally, settling into the new space; it provides the vocabulary and framework for the specific challenges of museum construction. Written by staff members at the Minnesota Historical Society who have consulted on scores of building projects, this volume helps museum professionals and volunteers understand the construction process to achieve their goals in a time of tight budgets.

Published by: Minnesota Historical Society Press

Half Title Page

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Title Page

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p. vii-vii

This book is dedicated to the memory of Charles W. Nelson (1945–2007). Charlie was the longtime historical architect at the Minnesota Historical Society and the State Historic Preservation Office. He cared deeply for small and midsize historical organizations and took great pleasure in helping the people who operated . . .

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pp. 3-4

This publication is intended as a guide for small and midsize historical organizations that undertake construction projects—new buildings and additions to existing buildings as well as renovations. It is meant to be used by organizations that are run entirely by volunteers as well as those that have paid . . .

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Chapter 1: Imagining Your Project

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pp. 5-26

You have decided that a construction project is the right direction for your organization. You may or may not know whether that means building from scratch, adding on, or renovating an existing building. In any case, you need to engage in a project . . .

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Chapter 2: The Initial Plan Takes Shape—Schematic Design

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pp. 27-40

The needs assessment outlined in chapter 1 gives you a general idea of what audiences you will serve, what programs and services you will provide for them, what your financial capacity is for construction, and whether you will renovate existing facilities or build new. . . .

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Chapter 3: Paying for Your Project

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pp. 41-47

At the end of each design phase, you will sign a document stating that you accept the plans that were generated during that phase. This signals to the architectural firm that you are ready to progress to the next design phase. With the schematic design in hand you will have a much better estimate of construction costs than . . .

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Chapter 4: Getting Down to the Details—Design Development

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pp. 49-67

In the design development phase, the preliminary drawings from the schematic phase are developed into detailed and fully articulated plans. While your architect, contractor, or design team does much of the work, the building committee continues to have a critical role. It is extremely important that the building committee actively participate in this process. The committee needs to be an . . .

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Chapter 5: Museum Environment—What Makes a Museum Building Special

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pp. 69-107

Museum environments are different from other buildings because collections often have more stringent requirements for their preservation than most people need in their day-to-day lives. The environment within a building is defined by several factors: temperature, relative humidity and dew point, the quantity . . .

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Chapter 6: Construction Documents and the Bid Process

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pp. 109-113

Before construction begins on your project, the architect pulls together the final design instructions into a package called constructions documents, or CDs for short. Prospective general contractors will then use the construction documents to bid the cost they would charge to build . . .

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Chapter 7: Construction

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pp. 115-124

During construction, the building committee’s role will be different than it was in the earlier planning phases. The lead shifts from you and the designer to the general contractor. Nevertheless, you still have important oversight responsibilities. Understanding the stages of construction will help prepare you for . . .

Chapter 8: Moving Day and Beyond

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pp. 125-129

Appendix 1: Museum Spaces Organized by Function

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pp. 131-132

Appendix 2: Reading Blueprints, Specifications, and Schedules

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pp. 133-161


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pp. 169-174

Further Reading

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pp. 169-174


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pp. 175-179

Back cover

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p. 181-181

E-ISBN-13: 9780873518567
E-ISBN-10: 087351856X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780873518475
Print-ISBN-10: 0873518470

Page Count: 176
Publication Year: 2012

Edition: 1

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Subject Headings

  • Museum architecture -- History -- 21st century.
  • Museum buildings -- Designs and plans.
  • Interior architecture -- Designs and plans.
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