State officials are moving forward with some long-awaited construction on the Nevada State Museum to streamline the building's access and play up its popular mining exhibit.
Lawmakers approved a conceptual design and nearly $3.5 million for the project during the recent legislative session, and State Public Works Board Manager Dan O'Brien said Gov. Kenny Guinn made it a priority among the state's many public works projects.
"The governor would like to have this project done when the Legislature convenes two years from now," O'Brien said.
Plans for the new entrance call for a glass enclosure connecting the museum's main building, the old U.S. Mint, to its north building so there will be one entry point for both.
Aside from putting a modern touch on the historic Mint building, the structure will finally put the museum in compliance with the American's with Disabilities Act, allow reception staff to set up in just one area, and provide added space for exhibits.
"It will solve a number of needs here," said Museum Director Jim Barmore. "I see it as a centerpiece for the museum."
The main museum entrance, which has in the past been in front of the building on Carson Street, is now on the building's less visible north side.
"It's sometimes hard for people to find," Barmore said. The new entrance is "going to be very obvious."
The new entrance will also be more accommodating to people with disabilities, a driving factor behind the redesign. Visitors in wheelchairs now must enter through an elevator that opens to a walkway on the building's south side.
"Our (disabled) entrance is very awkward and it's a bad reflection on the museum," Barmore said.
The project will also include an elevator inside the museum with a facade resembling an old mine headframe. The elevator will take visitors down into the museum's acclaimed underground mine exhibit.
The State Public Works Board on Wednesday selected a consultant for the project, although no firm timeline has been set other than being finished by the start of the 2007 legislative session.
Barmore said he appreciates the patience that has been shown by the public while the museum has undergone constant renovations for more than a year now, forcing storage of several popular exhibits.
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