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Amsterdam, NY ,

Rebecca Webster/Recorder staff Walter Elwood Museum Executive Director Ann Peconie stands in front of the museum's new home, the former Noteworthy complex, on Tuesday in Amsterdam.

Rebecca Webster/Recorder staff This chandelier that hangs in the entrance way is one of Ann Peconie's favorite pieces at the new museum location. Peconie is the Walter Elwood Museum executive director.

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Elwood museum begins moving into new home

Wednesday, February 20, 2013 - Updated: 5:09 PM

By REBECCA WEBSTER

Recorder News Staff

The Walter Elwood Museum will officially be making its move to the former Noteworthy complex.

Friday marked the closing for the sale of the land, said museum director Ann Peconie, and the museum is now owner to five parcels of land, nearly 96,000 square feet of space formerly owned by the Constantino family.

Peconie said the move was made possible by contributions from members of the community.

Susan Wollman, president of the museum's Board of Directors, said Tuesday that the board has all kinds of thoughts and plans now that they have the space and will begin readying it for use for their offices as soon as they can.

"Then we will begin the transition from the Fucillo's spot and moving the collection up there," Wollman said.

The former museum at Guy Park Manor offered about 11,000 square feet of space for exhibits, offices and stored collections.

And the museum's temporary location at the Fucillo's Jeep dealership offered just enough space for storage and to get the museum back on their feet after the 2011 flood.

But at the new space, Peconie said, the museum will have 20,000 square feet of space dedicated solely to exhibits.

On top of that 20,000 square feet, additional space will be used for conference rooms and offices for the museum, one of which will one day house an education coordinator, Peconie envisioned.

And for the museum it will also mean a large amount of space, on upper floors, to store the collection.

"The light isn't going to bother it. It's not in the basement. There's no water touching it. It's on the second floor. It's secure," she said.

Off of the large storage space sat what Peconie called "work rooms."

"These will be nice for college students and graduate students that want to come in and do a project on a piece of the collection, look at our directories, or look at our maps ... They have their own workspace," she said.

On Tuesday, renovation work was already evident at the new museum space; carpets were ripped up, paint buckets were taking up some space on tarps on the floors, and rooms were cleared.

"Before we bring anything in here, we need to get the rooms ready for things to come in," Peconie said. "This has been a vacant factory for two to three years. We need to clean it up before we put our stuff in it."

Traces of the space's former uses as both a business building for Noteworthy and a former factory are evident in many of the rooms, including the storage space where the original freight elevator from the factory still works and will be used to easily move the collection to and from the storage location.

Pieces from the Constantino estate sale still sit in various rooms, some pieces earmarked for collections at the museum's new facility.

But Tuesday, there was also a vision for what the complex could become.

Wollman said that it's going to take some time to develop budgets and get a handle on owning such a large space, but they are "going to try and make the leap."

"We've got some really big plans to revamp the space, modernize it, hopefully make it more museum-like, but that's going to require financing and funding form the state," she said. "We think that with the available office space and things and having tenants, it will help us stay afloat."

Aside from housing the museum, the plan for the complex also includes utilizing and renting out the rest of the space for other nonprofits, storage space, small companies or at-home professionals in need of office space, event space, and light industrial companies.

It already houses three other tenants, one using a spot for storage, another a gym, and the third a small company.

"The idea here was to make the museum a little more self-sustaining, that by having rent-paying tenants, the museum would not have to do as much fundraising all the time and we could pay our own bills through rental incomes," Wollman explained. "We still think that could work. ... We have a lot of things to offer to people coming in."

Peconie said the "staged opening" -- where they will open offices and a few exhibits and then more exhibits as they are ready -- will likely be late spring, early summer, depending on the volunteers and help.

Robert von Hasseln, the city's director of community and economic development, said that he looks forward to the opening, adding it will be a place where people will stop in Amsterdam to see.

"Any day that the Walter Elwood Museum moves forward is a good day for Amsterdam," he said. " We need to achieve a tipping balance here of things people will come here to see. There are not very many collections like it."

Von Hasseln said the city is standing by ready to help if asked, and added that the city could help them find the right people to put into those offices and extra spaces.

He added that his final act as president of the Historic Amsterdam League too will be to encourage the membership to help support the museum through its relocation.

"We all need to pull together now and support Walter Elwood as they not only attempt to restore what they had before but as they go beyond that."

Anyone interested in volunteering with the museum's move, or interested in renting space, can contact Peconie at the museum at 843-5151.

     

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