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First Lady Susan Corbett Visits Philadelphia Museum of Art; Announces the Release of Economic Growth Initiative Grant for Renovation

News for Immediate Release

July 31, 2014

Harrisburg – First Lady Susan Corbett today announced the award of a $5 million Economic Growth Initiative grant to the Philadelphia Museum of Art for the renovation and the enhancement of the facility’s main building as part of the museum’s Master Plan, designed by architect Frank Gehry.  Joining the First Lady for the announcement were museum leaders and regional elected officials.

“The Philadelphia Museum of Art is a commonwealth jewel,” Mrs. Corbett said. “This funding will increase accessibility to the museum's extraordinary exhibitions and programs while adding to the economic vitality of the region.”

Renovations to public spaces will address accessibility for patrons with special needs as well as improve visitor’s museum experience. Built in 1928, the Philadelphia Museum of Art stands as a city landmark.  The Economic Growth Initiative grant will help address essential building system repairs and upgrades, energy efficiency improvements, fire and life safety system investments, and work required needed to keep the historic structure in compliance with current safety codes.  All renovations and upgrades will bring the early 20th century building into alignment with the needs of the nearly one million annual visitors to the museum.

The renovations to the main building are expected to take approximately 4 ½ years and is the first of several phases.  Called the “Core Project”, this phase is expected to cost $150 to $160 million overall.

“What makes Pennsylvania such a great place to work, live and visit is the importance we place on the arts and their cultural contribution to our society,” Mrs. Corbett added.  “Our continued goal and mission must be to enlighten all who partake in the beauty and wonder that these walls house.”

“The museum is extremely grateful to the full legislative assembly and, in particular to Governor Corbett for the strong support of this important project,” Constance H. Williams, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, said. “We are especially delighted that these much needed funds will support the upgrade of the building infrastructure, which is vital to the museum’s continued success. An investment in the museum is ultimately one in the local and regional economy and in education, and thus a direct benefit to the communities we serve in Philadelphia and the commonwealth.”

Long-term, museum enhancements and improvements will also comprise the renovation of existing spaces that are required to advance the creation of a new Education Center to better serve schoolchildren and families, and gallery renovations for the expanded and enhanced display of the Museum’s world-renowned collection. Unlike infrastructure projects, these later phases are expected to be funded by the private sector and donors.

The Philadelphia Museum of Art has successfully advanced a Facilities Master Plan over the last decade. Key projects included the acquisition and restoration of The Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building, the creation of the Anne d’Harnoncourt Sculpture Garden and a new parking facility, and the development of new off-site art storage facility. The Museum has a successful track record of completing construction projects on time and on, or under, budget. Last year saw the first expansion of the Museum’s main building with the completion of a new Art Handling Facility, which was created to address the art handling needs of today’s museums. The new facility provides distinct bays for goods and materials, and, aligned with standards established by international museum professionals, for the movement of works of art.

In 2012, Governor Corbett reformed the state’s method of funding Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program with a significant redesign, making the process more transparent and objective.  Projects are now selected based upon their job-creation potential, their economic impact, as well as their viability and construction readiness.

Prior to Governor Corbett taking office, the state’s spending and borrowing for capital redevelopment assistance had become unsustainable for the state and its taxpayers, growing from $400 million in 1986 to slightly more than $4 billion in 2010.  Gov. Corbett also said that the program had strayed considerably from its intended purpose of encouraging and assisting job growth through regional economic development projects. 

Last round, the Corbett administration announced 58 new Economic Growth Initiative grants, totaling more than $133 million. The announced projects are expected to create more than 45,000 jobs in 24 counties across the state.

To ensure the commonwealth can continue supporting Economic Growth Initiative grants, Governor Corbett continued to urge the state legislature to enact meaningful pension reform and address the current pension system’s $50 billion debt. Ballooning pension costs, which consume approximately 60 cents of every new dollar of general fund revenues, detract from the commonwealth’s ability to invest in economic development and projects that spur job creation.

“Every dollar saved through pension reform is an opportunity to support more Economic Initiative grants that build a stronger Pennsylvania,” said Gov. Corbett. “Doing nothing to fix our pension crisis fails our families throughout Westmoreland County and the state.”

For more information on the program, visit the Budget Office online at select the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program link.

Media contact:    Karen Gunnison, Office of the First Lady 717-787-1965

Jay Pagni, Governor’s Office 717-783-1116       

Editor’s note: For statutory and legislative purposes, the Economic Grow Initiative program will continue to be known as the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program.



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