$26 Million Gift Will Bring New Art Museum to MSU

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A $26 million gift from Eli and Edythe Broad will build a new art museum along Grand River Avenue on the campus of Michigan State University.

President Lou Anna Simon said the building will be "world class."

"It'll be hopefully a point of destination not simply in Michigan but for people to come to Michigan," she said.

We don't know exactly what the museum -- the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum pending the approval of trustees -- will look like because the design will be the outcome of an international competition.

Two international architectural firms and three U.S.-based ones have been selected as finalists.

"All but one are world famous," said Joseph Giovannini, the man the university has put in charge of the design competition. "The one who's not is a young architect from California who's about to be famous."

The new museum will be built on the site of the now-vacant Paolucci Building along Grand River just west of the Collingwood entrance to campus. Demolition is set to begin this summer.

Once the new building is done in about 2010, it should be able to showcase three times the art now on display at the university's Kresge Art Museum.

"It's incredible," museum Director Susan Bandes said. "We're going from a small unknown, or little-known, museum of 10,000 square feet to 42,000 square feet and really put us on the map."

The gift will also help the museum add to its collection. The Kresge building may continue to be used depending on the layout of the new facility.

A plot of open space just east of the new museum site is slated to become a sculpture garden. It's centerpiece? A $2.5 million sculpture to be made just for the garden.

It's all part of a project leaders say will better connect the university to East Lansing.

"[This is] clearly the biggest thing that's happened in East Lansing in a generation," City Manager Ted Staton said.

Dramatic entrances both on Circle Drive and Grand River Avenue could trigger development on the East Lansing side of the street.

But Simon says the new building will mean something to the whole region.

"Arts and culture does have a significant economic impact and we believe this will as well because it will be a world destination," she said.

To build that destination, the university needs to raise another $5 million.

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