Georgia O’Keeffe Museum plans expansion project at new site

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Officials at the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum in Santa Fe have announced plans to build a facility large enough to fill an entire city block.

The new 54,000-square-foot museum will be built on the site of a former Safeway grocery store, which is currently occupied by the museum’s Education Center and Prima Title, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported. It is estimated to cost $60 million.

Museum officials are expected to announce the plan publicly this week at an online neighborhood notification meeting required by the city for certain construction projects. The expansion project has been in the works since the museum opened in 1997, but the expansion evolved into relocation in recent years.

Museum Director Cody Hartley said the existing museum will become an annex, but officials could later decide to not use the current building.

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

Hartley said he hopes to pull demolition permits by the end of the year, with design work taking up most of 2022. Construction is expected to begin shortly after, with a possible opening date in 2024.

The museum opened in 1997 with 40 O’Keeffe paintings. It obtained additional paintings in 2006 from the Georgia O’Keeffe Foundation.

“This little museum had to prove itself so that museums could trust us with their works,” 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 among the smallest accredited museums by the American Alliance of Museums.”

Gluckman Tang Architects of New York City designed the original Georgia O’Keeffe Museum and was also tasked with presenting a design for the new museum. Reed Hilderbrand Landscape Architects of Cambridge, Massachusetts, is the landscape architect, and Thinc Design of New York is the exhibit design firm.

“We have been quietly working away,” Hartley said. “We haven’t made any huge announcements.”