Mayor eyes multi-million dollar investment in Albuquerque Museum

Could a multi-million-dollar investment bring more visitors to the Albuquerque Museum? 

That’s the question Mayor Tim Keller’s administration is asking Albuquerque City Councilors to weigh as a part of the Mayor’s “Decade Plan for Capital Improvements.”  

The plan is a “roadmap” so to speak, of how the Mayor’s Office would like to see bond money appropriated for dozens of different city projects. 

Under the initial proposal, the Keller Administration has sent to City Councilors, the city is calling for $11-million to be spent on five different projects for the Albuquerque Museum. 

VIEW: Mayor’s Proposed Decade Plan for Albuquerque Museum bond projects >>

“Absolutely, it’s a surge of investment and desperately needed,” said Emily Blaugrund Fox, the executive director of the Albuquerque Museum Foundation, which fundraises for museum programs.  

The projects targeted for funding in the Mayor’s bond money roadmap proposal include museum collection development, repairs and renovation, a xeriscaping project, funds for Casa San Ysidro and funding for a museum education center. 

The Keller Administration wouldn’t interview with KRQE News 13 about the bond proposal. However, part of the strategy of investing in the museum may be to bring in larger crowds. 

While the museum typically earns high remarks from many visitors, attendance is relatively low compared to other city-owned properties. 

About 126,000 people went to the Albuquerque Museum between June 2017 and May 2018, which was about 4,000 fewer visitors than the Balloon Museum saw in the same period. 

More than 1.2 million people went to the Albuquerque Zoo in the same timeframe. 

“For folks that aren’t used to going to museums, maybe just they think it’s not for them, but if they would just give museums a try, they would find so many wonderful things, and for all ages,” said Blaugrund Fox. 

If the Keller Administration’s bond roadmap proposal comes true, the majority of the $11 million in requested bond funds for the museum would go toward the proposed “Education Center.” 

“It just will take this museum to the next level,” said Blaugrund Fox of the proposed Education Center. 

Last year, the museum compiled a conceptual plan for an Education Center that would add much more space for various educational opportunities. 

“This education center will create gathering spaces again for all ages, for adult learning, for senior citizen learning, children,” said Blaugrund Fox. 

Today, the Albuquerque Museum only has one teaching space that’s just a few hundred square feet in size and mainly used for kid-related programming. An education center could change that significantly. 

“We could have adult learning going on with children at the same time as well, whereas now we can only have one thing going on, one class at a time,” said Blaugrund Fox. 

The mayor’s funding plan still needs city council approval. Even if the roadmap were approved, voters decide on the fate of bond packages every two years during municipal elections. 

While there’s still a long way to go, Blaugrund Fox says it’s a good first step to see that the city is talking about it. 

“We’re excited that the city is behind it,” said Blaugrund Fox. 

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