Editorial: Join Art Museum, Burpee and Armory

Editorial: Join Art Museum, Burpee and Armory

By Frank Schier

By Frank Schier

Editor and Publisher

The Rockford Art Museum is considering a move from 711 N. Main St. to the far east side of Rockford onto Rock Valley College’s campus. Is this move being urged by developers or a matter of necessity?

The Art Museum is an essential part of the River District, and the move would damage the district and be a major defeat for the “Cultural Corridor” plan, extending from Klehm Arboretum to Whitman Street and perhaps to the Main and Auburn business district.

Such a move also betrays the fundraisers and donors who built the Discovery Center, with the Rockford Art Museum as an essential asset to that complex.

With the two buildings of the Burpee Museum complex, it comprises a “museum row” in convenient proximity to each other for pedestrian continuity of discovery about Rockford. Such a move would also diminish the Rockford Park District’s effort and investment by reducing visitors there.

The investment we have made in art and culture at that location should not be driven out of the River District to the fast food and drive-through isolation of strip-mall monotony. The location Rock Valley College and Rockford College’s relocation were a severe blow to the west side and downtown from which we have just recently recovered.

One of the museum’s biggest problems is the lack of controlled-environment storage space for the art collection’s accreditation.

Across the parking lot from the Rockford Art Museum stands the vacant National Guard Armory, awaiting a purpose. The obvious solution would be to use spacious upper

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offices in the Armory for storage and invest in the necessary technology and remodeling. The basement is also available for the same investment, if the upper level were to be used for another purpose.

Concurrently, the Armory could also become an extension of the Burpee Museum as a history museum on the entire Rock River, just as Dubuque is creating such a museum for the Mississippi River Valley. Are we trying to create a central tourist destination here in Rockford, or are we trying to disperse it all over town? Let’s utilize an existing beautiful, architectural asset that is already on the historical register.

How do you feel about these proposals? Let the Rockford Art Museum know. Their phone number is 968-2787. As to a history museum on the entire Rock River, call the Park District at 987-8800. That’s outreach.

Jon Bystrom contributed to this editorial.

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