The Springfield Art Museum unveiled a new 30-year master plan to City Council Oct. 9. The master plan is the culmination of a nearly nine-month process by BNIM, a nationally recognized architecture firm with offices in Kansas City, Des Moines and San Diego. The museum announced that it had hired BNIM in January to develop a master plan for the museum’s building and grounds.
The museum’s master plan focuses on the creation of a new Family Learning Center, new educational spaces, expansion and improvement to the facility including public and community spaces, improved circulation throughout the building, parking improvements, and a renewed purpose for the museum’s grounds and green space. The museum’s grounds will undergo a dramatic transformation, including better pedestrian and bicycle access through trails, expanded and improved green space, and needed stormwater improvements, including the naturalization of sections of Fassnight Creek.
Naturalization would alleviate flood risk while creating an outdoor amenity on the museum grounds. In addition to flood mitigation, changes to the grounds will improve connections between the museum site and its surrounding environs, including Phelps Grove Park and the Water Wise Garden. The master plan provides additional opportunities to connect the museum and Phelps Grove Park to other sites via the Fassnight Creek Greenway Trail located immediately west of the Phelps Grove area.
Proposed in three phases, the master plan creates a museum campus similar to those encountered at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City or the St. Louis Art Museum. Conceptual drawings shared with City Council emphasize the incorporation of mid-century modern design elements present in the original 1958 museum structure, the residential scale of the surrounding Phelps Grove and University Heights neighborhoods, and the connection of the museum building to outdoor experiences including, its New Deal-era amphitheater, outdoor sculptures and trails.
Museum Director Nick Nelson notes “Ninety years ago, our founders established the Springfield Art Museum with about 20 works of art in a borrowed space. Their vision and courage inspire us today as we consider the long-term future of this wonderful institution and present a plan for the next 30 years that is no less visionary.”
The timeline for completion of the three building phases is contingent upon fund raising.