The Georgia O’Keeffe Museum of the future will fill almost an entire city block.

Museum directors intend to build a 54,000 square foot museum on the site of the former Safeway at 123 Grant Ave. which is now used by the Museum’s Education Center and Prima Title.

The museum will publicly announce its intentions on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. through an online neighborhood notification required by the city for certain construction projects.

A museum expansion to the east side of Grant Avenue has been quietly in progress since the O’Keeffe Museum on Johnson Street opened in July 1997, but in recent years the expansion has turned into a veritable move.

The existing museum would be an extension. Ultimately, the museum management may decide to leave this building entirely, said director Cody Hartley.

“The vast majority of visits will be in this block,” Hartley said of Grant’s location. “Let’s create the building we need.”

In May, the museum acquired ownership of the entire Grant Marcy Sheridan Block minus the retail buildings on Palace Avenue.

The museum owns the former Safeway building that houses its education center; the Berger House from the 1870s, in which the museum administration as well as the library, the archive and the research center are located; and the two-story, 19,362-square-foot office building on Marcy Street and Grant, where Sommer Udall Law Firm and the Museum have offices.

Museum founder Anne Marion acquired the 2.54 hectare property in 2001 through her family’s Burnett Foundation. Marion died in February 2020, and in May the foundation transferred the property to the museum.

“Her death marked the beginning of a new era,” said Hartley.

The new museum is expected to cost more than $ 60 million, Hartley said.

“The organization has grown and grown and grown and our facility has not kept up,” he said. “This future building will carry us for years.”

Hartley hopes to withdraw demolition permits by the end of the year. Design work will take most of 2022, with construction possibly beginning in late 2022 or early 2023 and the new museum potentially opening by late 2024, Harley said.

The new museum will be a single story with a basement that will be 24,000 square feet to consolidate the museum’s collection of more than 3,000 works, including 140 O’Keeffe oil paintings and nearly 700 drawings.

The new building will have 13,000 square meters of gallery space for permanent and temporary exhibitions, with the option of combining the rooms. There will be an auditorium and classroom that can also be combined into a larger room, and there will be a gift shop and large lobby, Hartley said.

The existing museum is 7,000 square meters with 5,000 square meters of gallery space and no temporary exhibition space.

The museum opened in 1997 with 40 O’Keeffe paintings. In 2006 it received additional paintings from the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation.

“This little museum had to prove itself in order for museums to entrust us with their work,” said Hartley, who joined the museum in 2013 and became its director in 2019. “Now we are a leading American museum, internationally known and highly regarded for our expertise. We are one of the smallest accredited museums of the American Alliance of Museums. “

Museum officials plan to combine the 8,879-square-foot Berger House with a large garden with the education center to create a large community meeting place designed with more suitable regional plants.

Hartley wants the new museum to be a draw for the locals. 85 percent of the existing museum is visited outside of the state and only reaches 10 percent of Santa Fe’s school children.

“We want to make sure we can reach every school child in Santa Fe with enough classroom space and bus loading areas,” he said.

The Sheridan Avenue side of the museum grounds is the city’s bus transportation hub. Hartley wants to work with the city to improve this space.

He also wants the museum to be about New Mexico and its people as well as the art of Georgia O’Keeffe.

“It starts with our story going back to focusing on the people of New Mexico,” he said. “We want to tell a story that is about the place and the people. We can tell the story of the landscape and the people. I love the idea of ​​having a place where local people can help [with] Education and inform visitors about our history. “

The museum also owns the O’Keeffe home and studio and the Ghost Ranch.

New York City’s Gluckman Tang Architects designed the original Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and will design the new museum. Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architects from Cambridge, Massachusetts is the landscape architect and Thinc Design from New York City is the exhibition design firm.

Hartley said tentative plans for a new museum were presented to him when he joined the museum in 2013 as senior director of collections and interpretation, or “chief curator”. And expansion has been a goal since 1997.

“We worked quietly,” he said. “We didn’t make any big announcements.”