The Art Museum occupies about 70 percent of the War Memorial Center buildings, which are adjacent to the winged Santiago Calatrava-designed addition to the Art Museum.
The Art Museum plans to raise $15 million in private funds for the project and is asking Milwaukee County to commit nearly $10 million for the cost of deferred maintenance to the buildings, which are owned by the county, said Art Museum executive director Dan Keegan.
The Art Museum also wants to take over management of the War Memorial Center buildings, Keegan said. The buildings would still be owned by Milwaukee County.
"We have a very expensive art collection housed in the buildings but we have no control (of the buildings)," Keegan said.
The War Memorial Center buildings are in deteriorating condition that puts much of the Art Museum's collection at risk to damage, especially from leaks, Keegan said.
"We've got drip pans in the ceilings of the galleries," he said. "That's not good."
In addition to leaks and crumbing concrete the facility needs a new HVAC system, Keegan said.
The project will also include an expansion of the War Memorial Center. An 8,000-square-foot glass entrance atrium would be added to the east side of the facility along the lakefront. The second level sculpture court yard would be enclosed to eliminate leaks and create a new 5,000-square-foot gallery space. The Veterans Courtyard would also be dramatically improved, Keegan said.
The Art Museum hopes to begin the project in the fall of 2013. It will take about a year to complete. The architect for the project is Jim Shields of HGA.