Toledo Museum of Art Announces Master Plan to Unify its Campus and Increase Accessibility, Sustainability and Greenspace

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The Toledo Museum of Art (TMA) announces today a comprehensive Master Plan for the institution, its buildings and surrounding campus, to be carried out over approximately 20 years. The first phase of the Master Plan, which developed out of TMA’s recent, long-range strategic planning process, focuses on TMA’s grounds as an urban park and oasis within the city of Toledo. Plans call for creating new green space, unifying the architectural and visitor experience and enhancing the existing gardens and grounds.

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Proposed center gallery at the Toledo Museum of Art. Image courtesy of Beyer Blinder Belle.

TMA began developing the Master Plan in late 2016 with Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners, an internationally renowned architectural and planning firm based in New York City. Among Beyer Blinder Belle’s specializations are museums, campus planning, historic preservation and parks and gardens. The firm has collaborated with some of the most influential cultural institutions in the U.S., including: Metropolitan Museum of Art, Smithsonian Institution, New York Public Library, Frick Collection, Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Ellis Island and Longwood Gardens.

“Through this dynamic Master Plan, the Toledo Museum of Art is poised to capitalize on our institutional strengths of outreach and education and to better engage with our many communities and constituencies for generations to come,” said Brian Kennedy, Edward Drummond and Florence Scott Libbey Director of the Toledo Museum of Art. “We look forward to realizing this vision through our work with Beyer Blinder Belle by supporting the citizens and leadership of the city of Toledo, a city that is in the midst of an exciting urban revitalization.”

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Proposed lower lobby entrance to the Toledo Museum of Art. Image courtesy of Beyer Blinder Belle.

The team at Beyer Blinder Belle has completed a full assessment and analysis of TMA’s site, developed a range of options and consulted with the Museum’s leadership to act on the Master Plan announced today. The Master Plan is designed to considerably increase the Museum’s accessibility and visibility by unifying the twelve buildings across its 40-acre park-like setting and weaving the site into the broader urban fabric of downtown Toledo.

The Master Plan is being developed, founded on established community relationships, and will dovetail with goals for the surrounding neighborhood and greater Toledo area.

The Master Plan includes a significant evaluation and audience research component that will integrate visitor feedback; analyze regional and target audience demographics, interests, behaviors and expectations; audit current program offerings and visitor circulation patterns; examine TMA’s campus wayfinding system and amenities, and propose practical solutions to maximize the comfort and sensory experience of TMA’s diverse audiences.

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Proposed Family Center at the Toledo Museum of Art. Image courtesy of Beyer Blinder Belle.

“At Beyer Blinder Belle, we believe that architecture and design empower neighborhoods and people by connecting them to each other and their everyday built environment,” said Elizabeth Leber, partner at Beyer Blinder Belle. “Through this ambitious Master Plan, TMA is looking to redefine its relationship within its neighborhood, reshape the visitor experience, and revitalize its profile in the city. To achieve this long-term vision, we are focused on bringing cohesion to the campus and making this leading arts and education institution more accessible, welcoming to the community and appealing in function and spirit.”

In addition to the Main Building and the SANAA-designed Glass Pavilion, the TMA campus also incorporates an art deco-style building that is leased to area arts organizations; a former conference center; studio spaces; the Museum Place apartment buildings, of which the Museum recently took stewardship from the city; the central plant for the Main Building; the Welles Sculpture Garden; and the Frank Gehry designed Center for the Visual Arts of the University of Toledo. This distinct collection of buildings and plots of land, added to the TMA campus over time, is one of the central challenges of the Master Plan.

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Proposed respite gallery at the Toledo Museum of Art. Image courtesy of Beyer Blinder Belle.

Among the public spaces that the Master Plan examines are the sculpture park, a play area, event spaces, parking/drop off areas, landscape, lighting/security and campus-wide circulation. The Master Plan will augment the visitor experience from the first step inside the Museum, optimizing and improving the Museum’s interior public spaces, including entrances, galleries, event spaces, classrooms, performance spaces and services. A subsequent phase of the Master Plan considers non-public facilities, including office and meeting space, storage, food preparation and delivery/circulation of goods and materials. More details about these projects will be released over the coming years.

“Our goal throughout the process of developing and implementing this historic Master Plan is to foster TMA’s role as an anchor and partner within the Old West End neighborhood,” said Deputy Director Adam Levine. “What we’re calling the ‘Museum in a Park’ plan will make every visit to TMA an even more special experience, with its landmark architecture, gracious gardens and grounds, and of course world-class art collection. TMA is committed to doing this in a forward-looking and sustainable way, with the Museum contributing to the region’s overall health and vitality while restoring and leveraging its architecturally distinguished heritage to guide future development and programming.”

Founded in 1901 as a privately endowed non-profit organization, the Toledo Museum of Art is open to the public – free of charge – 309 days a year.

Information and updates about the Master Plan will be available throughout the process at toledomuseum.org.


7 Responses to “Toledo Museum of Art Announces Master Plan to Unify its Campus and Increase Accessibility, Sustainability and Greenspace”

  1. michael siffer says:

    The front of the museum is iconic. Anything that detracts from the tremendous columned entrance must not be tolerated. ADA provisions can be accomplished in subtle ways that leave the structure as it is.

    Want to get people to use the front door? Put your museum storage building on the parking lot and relocate the parking to the east and west, or build under ground parking with urban parks above

    I am hopeful that this will be a public process that engages the community and their wishes

  2. Lee Hakel says:

    Please preserve the classic look of the main building. What about a cross walk between the Pavilion and the main building, until future plans are developed?

  3. john kiely says:

    I am delighted to hear about these plans for our Museum and want to support your vision both at Museum Place and elsewhere on the campus and in the neighborhood. I would love to think about how to tie the Plaza Apartments closer to the Museum.

  4. Ken McFarlan says:

    It all sounds interesting and positive. Are there architects’ drawings of revised exteriors, interior renovations, and an overall aerial view? That all would be nice to see.

  5. Stephanie Elton says:

    Thank you for the feedback, Michael. The first phase of the Master Plan focuses on realigning and unifying many of the public interior spaces, building an art support building, and restoring the iconic 1912 columned entrance as the main entrance to the Museum. Engaging with the community through conversations and discussions is integral to the plan’s success and will be a key part through the different phases of the Master Plan.

  6. Stephanie Elton says:

    We appreciate the recommendation, Lee. Thank you for sharing. There are three components to the first phase of the Master Plan: realigning and unifying many of the public interior spaces, building an art support building, and restoring the iconic 1912 columned entrance as the main entrance to the Museum.

  7. Stephanie Elton says:

    Glad to hear you’re elated, John. It is an exciting time for the Museum, its neighbors, and the city of Toledo!


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