University of Michigan to transfer thousands of artifacts out of Museum of Natural History building
Daniel Brenner | AnnArbor.com
The transfer of artifacts, most of which are now kept in the the Museum of Natural History building, and the renovation of 71,000-square-feet of the Varsity Drive building is anticipated to cost $27.5 million.
Courtesy of U-M
Administrators will seek permission for the transfer and renovation from the Board of Regents during a 3 p.m. Thursday meeting at the Michigan Union. Regents are anticipated to approve the project.
It's the second large-scale transfer of artifacts out of the Ruthven Exhibit Building, more commonly known as the building that houses the Museum of Natural History, in recent history.
In 2010, U-M approved the $17.6 million transfer of its zoology museum's alcohol-preserved collections to Varsity Drive and renovated nearly 7,000-square-feet of storage space within Ruthven. An estimated 5 million specimens were moved.
Along with the collections, the university also is transferring some zoology, paleontology and anthropology offices to the Varsity Drive building. According to an internal memo, 40 parkings spaces on central campus will free up because of the transfer.
"The storage space is pretty awful, the basement you can barely stand up straight in. It's really not the kind of storage space that's appropriate or best for the long-term," said U-M spokesperson Rick Fitzgerald said of the existing storage space within the Ruthven building. "What they're creating out on Varsity Drive is real good, in some cases climate controlled, storage space, versus the basement of an aging building."
Fitzgerald said the transfer is "not necessarily" related to a potential renovation or expansion of the Ruthven building, which U-M officials said they were seriously considering in December.
"We are studying it," Timothy Slottow, U-M's chief financial officer, said in a December interview. "It's very old and we are looking at meeting the needs of [the College of Literature, Science and Arts] biology faculty."
View Artifacts' pilgrimage in a larger map