Museum construction begins |

Museum construction begins

Work has begun on a project which, for the first time, will provide the disabled safe and easy access to the Nevada State Museum and its underground mine exhibit.

Reyman Brothers Construction, of Sparks, will create a new entrance for the museum which looks like the head frame structure built to lower people and equipment into Nevada mines of more than 100 years ago.

In addition to providing an elevator to the basement where the mine is located, the structure will connect the three museum buildings on North Carson Street with a glass enclosed structure.

The total cost of the project is $3.2 million.

Since that new structure will be built in front of what is now the museum entrance, the entrance has been moved to the south side of the museum.

“We’re remaining open,” said Scott Klette, the museum’s facility supervisor. “We’re continuing the evening programs, continuing the outreach programs, special events, guided tours, school tours.”

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The underground mine exhibit, however, will have a different exit during construction, sending visitors out the south side of the building.

Klette said the next 13 months will be a major challenge for staff as well as patrons.

“Everybody in the building is pulling together,” he said. “But as much workload as there is, everybody is pretty excited about this.”

He said not only will the construction unify the museum’s buildings, it will provide centralized admission and a bigger gift shop.

The structure was designed by Robert Oxoby, of Gardnerville, who told the Public Works Board in January: “This solves the issue of one of the most prestigious buildings in state government where we have to take the handicapped around and wrestle them into a freight elevator.”

Lee Johnson, of Reymen Brothers, said the first big task will be to dig to basement level outside the old entrance and tunnel into the mine exhibit, a task he admitted he approaches “with some trepidation.” He said it’s a challenging project.

Klette said the elevator will provide access from street level, access five feet up from there to the first floor of both the old mint and the museum addition as well as access to the second floor of the museum.

Most important, he said, it will provide access to the basement and the museum’s big attraction – the underground mine.

“We’re going to have ADA access to the mine for the first time ever and unobstructed ADA access to the museum.”

While the museum will remain open, Klette said the park between the museum and the annex is closed for the duration.

The exhibit “Under One Sky: Nevada’s Native American Heritage” will also be closed to regular viewing.

The structure will be built of glass and steel, which museum director Jim Barmore said will provide space to display some of the museum’s larger artifacts where they can be seen from outside the concourse as well as the inside.

“The whole project between the two buildings will look very modern,” said Johnson. “But it has that historical mine motif to it.”

“It’s an interesting approach, particularly given the historic nature of the old mint building,” he said.

• Contact reporter Geoff Dornan at or 687-8750.