North Dakota Heritage Center project close to $6M goal

Floor plan detailing the expansion project at the North Dakota Heritage Center. Image courtesy State Historical Society of North Dakota Foundation.

Floor plan detailing the expansion project at the North Dakota Heritage Center. Image courtesy State Historical Society of North Dakota Foundation.

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – Supporters of a $52 million expansion of North Dakota’s Heritage Center museum say they have almost raised enough money to begin construction.

The Historical Society of North Dakota must have at least $6 million in private and federal funds before the expansion project may go ahead. The Legislature set the minimum fundraising threshold before construction could begin.

On Tuesday, the state Historical Board, which oversees the society’s operations, is expected to approve a request to the state budget office attesting that the money is available.

But Virginia Nelsen, director of the society’s foundation, said Monday the planned request did not mean the foundation had $6 million in hand. It will allow the project’s supporters to move more quickly once the money is raised, Nelsen said.

The fundraising effort is “just a few hundred thousand” short, she said. “Another gift or two, and we’ll be ready to go.”

The 2009 Legislature set aside $39.7 million in state money for the expansion project, while counting on federal and private sources for the remaining $12 million. The legislation bars the historical society from beginning construction until it has at least $6 million worth of outside pledges in hand.

As planned, the expansion would almost double the size of the Heritage Center, which is on the state Capitol grounds, just southeast of the building itself.

It would include new display galleries, a 60-seat theater, interactive exhibits, a cafe and outdoor patio, a new glass entrance on the building’s east side, and added parking.

In 2005, the Legislature approved a separate, $5.7 million expansion of the Heritage Center’s archive space.

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Online:

Heritage Center expansion, http://www.statehistoricalfoundation.com/

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AP-WS-07-26-10 1444EDT