The Schweinfurth Art Center and the Cayuga Museum of History and Art are pleased to announce their joint project has been included in the $10 million Downtown Revitalization Initiative grant that the City of Auburn recently won from New York State. The proposal includes extensive site work for both institutions to improve their properties and to create a west end anchor for a future Auburn Arts District.
“This is a wonderful opportunity for the Schweinfurth to work closely with our neighbor to improve the visitor experience for both our facilities,” said Schweinfurth Executive Director Donna Lamb. “Separately, the institutions are cultural jewels in the community and, by working together, we can enhance their draw for cultural tourists.”
“In our combined institutions, we have two museums, an internationally important historic site and a theater as well as green space and parking,” said Cayuga Museum Executive Director Eileen McHugh. “Together, we offer the visitor history, art, science, the performing arts, and more. This plan will make our combined institutions more welcoming and attractive to visitors and increase our value to our community.”
Auburn’s winning application earmarked $1.1 million to create a west end arts campus encompassing Schweinfurth and Cayuga Museum. Among the ideas included in the plan are creating accessible, attractive walkways between the buildings; expanded and upgraded parking; improved access to all buildings from the parking lots; new outdoor community gathering space that can be used for public programs; and, in the future, a possible café, artist housing, and additional event space.
Both institutions are in the process of upgrading their facilities. The Schweinfurth is currently working with InSite Architecture to develop a master plan for its building and property. The Schweinfurth has submitted a Regional Economic Development Council grant for the first phase, which will add heating and air-conditioning to the second floor, allowing the year-round use of additional classroom space. The Cayuga Museum has submitted a Regional Economic Development Council grant application to stabilize the Case Research Lab, the first in a three-part plan to turn the unique historic site into one of the premiere attractions in Upstate New York.
Both institutions are slated to become part of a possible Auburn Arts District. In April, CNY Arts in Syracuse won $100,000 from Empire State Development, in partnership with the Central New York Regional Economic Development Council, to create a master plan for arts and entertainment districts in Auburn, Cortland, Oneida, Oswego, and Syracuse. Last month, CNY Arts announced it hired a Chicago company to develop the plan.
The two institutions share an ideal location, within walking distance of Auburn’s New York State Equal Rights Heritage Center and Thompson Memorial African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, which is part of the Harriet Tubman National Historical Park.