MSU Trustees Approve $28M Transformative Renovation for MSU Museum

December 15, 2023 News

On Friday, December 15, the Michigan State University Board of Trustees authorized $28M towards infrastructure improvements for the MSU Museum. An integral part of research, teaching, and engagement at the university, the MSU Museum will embark on an ambitious 18-month renovation project starting July 2024. This announcement of university support comes shortly after the Museum received a generous multimillion-dollar gift from the Forest Akers Trust to support a new Immersive Lab for object-based learning and an Exhibit Lab for experiential learning.

The Board of Trustees’ approval comes after two years of planning the scope and budget for this critical project. The forthcoming improvements will greatly impact our work in the future. Now, we will continue to raise additional capital for investments in renovating the Museum’s core exhibition halls.

Below is the official announcement from MSU, following the conclusion of the Board of Trustees meeting.

MSU Board of Trustees approves essential MSU Museum infrastructure upgrades

The Michigan State University Board of Trustees has authorized infrastructure improvements for the MSU Museum. An integral part of research, teaching and engagement at the university, the museum will embark on an ambitious 18-month renovation project starting July 2024 to implement state-of-the-art climate control systems.

“The MSU Museum is foundational to our campus and is one of the earliest established museums in the country,” said MSU Interim President Teresa K. Woodruff, Ph.D. “Generations of Spartans and Michiganders have made meaningful memories at the MSU Museum, and supporting its continued growth and evolution is a lasting investment in ensuring this beloved place — and its remarkable collection of over a million objects — is a fundamental part of our campus experience for years to come.”

The announcement of university support comes shortly after the MSU Museum received a generous multimillion-dollar gift from the Forest Akers Trust to support these efforts.  A reflection of MSU excellence, these necessary upgrades will further strengthen the museum’s relationship with the Smithsonian Institution as the first Smithsonian Affiliate organization in Michigan and ensure continued accreditation by the American Alliance of Museums — the gold standard for all museums in the United States.

“We look forward to taking this exciting and necessary step toward ensuring our long-term impact on student and faculty success, community engagement and excellence within our field,” said Devon Akmon, MSU Museum director. “This represents a significant chapter in our museum’s journey, setting the stage for future growth and transformation, redefining what it means to be a 21st-century interdisciplinary museum.”

As an essential part of MSU since the university first opened its doors in 1857, the MSU Museum requires these critical upgrades to continue and grow its service to campus and surrounding communities through meaningful exhibitions and experiences at the nexus of art, science, culture and technology. The renovations mark a pivotal moment in the history of the museum, ensuring that future generations can continue to explore, express and experiment in a sustainable and comfortable environment.

“The MSU Museum is a driver of interdisciplinary teaching and learning on this campus, supporting students and faculty across colleges and majors,” said MSU Interim Provost Thomas Jeitschko. “Each year it is utilized by thousands of students in their coursework and its collections are cited in over 100 scholarly articles annually. The MSU Museum is an indispensable resource for advancing our university’s academic mission.”

The extensive renovations will encompass various aspects of the museum, including but not limited to:

  • Upgrading the climate control system to maintain stable temperature and humidity levels, safeguarding the integrity and longevity of collections while also enhancing the overall visitor experience.
  • Integrating accessibility enhancements to ensure inclusive experiences for all visitors. These enhancements include the installation of accessible all-gender restrooms as well as improved signage to accommodate visitors of different abilities.
  • Introducing an Immersive Lab and Exhibition Lab, funded by the multimillion-dollar gift from the Forest Akers Trust. These spaces will revolutionize MSU student involvement within the museum, offering dedicated galleries where students can actively participate in object-based learning with the museum’s collections, co-create exhibitions and design visitor experiences.

The infrastructure project is budgeted to be a $28 million investment.

Throughout the renovation closure period, the museum will continue to serve students and faculty through dynamic outreach programs, offsite exhibitions and new educational initiatives. These efforts will continue to advance innovative learning, research, exploration and interdisciplinary inquiry in line with the MSU Museum’s bold vision for its future.

“The arts at MSU catalyze moments of discovery at the intersection of disciplines, ideas and perspectives, and these renovations will provide even greater opportunity for the MSU Museum to design high-impact experiential learning opportunities,” said Judith Stoddart, vice provost for University Arts and Collections. “While the building is under construction, the MSU Museum will continue to expand on its strategic initiative to bring programming and exhibitions to unexpected places at MSU and in the state. This aligns with the overarching goal of Arts MSU to make the arts a ubiquitous feature of the campus and community experience, deeply embedded in MSU’s learning, research and outreach and engagement missions.”

To stay engaged with the MSU Museum during this time, follow the museum’s website and social media channels where behind-the-scenes glimpses of the renovation progress will be shared.