Groundbreaking Ceremony Planned For Downtown Freeport Arts Plaza

FREEPORT, ILLINOIS — The Freeport Art Museum, in partnership with the City of Freeport celebrates the start of major construction on its new Arts Plaza on Friday, April 12th at 2:00 p.m. at the plaza site on the corner of Douglas St. and Chicago Ave.

Project is planned for completion by the end of 2020

The Arts Plaza project focuses on providing an open space for creativity, festivals, art, and recreation.
Stakeholders and representatives will be present to speak about the project and its impact on the community
Government leaders and museum officials will formally break ground for the new plaza located at the corner of Douglas Street and Chicago Avenue in downtown Freeport, IL. FAM Board President, Adam Schulz, and Executive Director, Jessica Modica will lead the ceremony, marking the start of work on the plaza’s two main features; the multi-use stage and splash pad.

Chicago Avenue Entrance
Chicago Avenue Entrance

This much anticipated groundbreaking is about a journey towards revitalizing our downtown in ways that will inspire and spark creativity and joy for all who walk through and pass by. The Plaza has the potential to become one of the City’s most dynamic cornerstone’s, bringing the community together” states Mr. Schulz, President of the Museum’s Board of Directors as well as chair of the Board’s Plaza Design Committee. “It will give the Freeport Art Museum a much more visible setting where we can present creative, culturally enriching programs for everyone. We are honored to offer our thanks to the generous donor who has made this project possible.”

Ms. Modica says: “We are very pleased that work is now underway to provide a vibrant, arts-based civic space for our community. When completed, the Arts Plaza will be a key contributor in fostering community engagement, developing art and cultural experiences that help facilitate economic development, and welcoming residents and visitors to Freeport.” “We are overwhelmed by the community support of the project and look forward to opening the plaza in the fall of 2020.”

Project Background and Funding

Twelve years have passed since the property was donated to the museum by the late Jack Myers, a philanthropist who once owned a successful car sales business on the site. A visionary who believed in the potential of creating a cultural campus comprised of the adjacent public library, Lincoln-Douglas Debate square, and the historic Union Dairy, Mr. Myers gave the land to the museum to build a new facility for the arts. Although plans for the construction of a new arts museum were shelved, in recent years the demand for a civic space downtown, coupled with momentum and financial support, led to the Arts Plaza initiative that allows the vision of an arts and cultural civic space to finally become a reality.

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Gateway Sculpture

Thus far, the Freeport Art Museum has been able to raise $600,000 in cash and in-kind support received through private donations coupled with a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and support from our project partners—the City of Freeport, which allows the museum to begin major construction. Nearing the end of a quiet-phase fundraising, the board of directors is expected announce the approval of a $800,000 goal, which includes a $250,000 endowment for the ongoing maintenance and programming of the plaza.

Plaza Features

The plan calls for the creation of a multi-use, elevated stage that can accommodate several different types of performance , including music, theater and dance and is versatile enough to host presentations such as film festivals. A splash pad offers residents and tourists a no-cost recreational activity that can be enjoyed throughout the summer months. Visitors to the Plaza can purchase an ice-cream from neighboring Union Dairy and walk over to the plaza to enjoy watching their children play in a safe, sensory-rich environment. During festivals and performances, the splash pad water can be turned off and the space used to provide seating and accommodation for people with mobility and other challenges, ensuring everyone access to the arts. A large gateway sculpture, marking the corner entrance at Douglas Street and Chicago Avenue, is designed to be a monumental interactive work of art that serves as both an iconic passageway and donor recognition wall. Its bold color and grand scale will ensure its visibility, helping to attract and orient people to the downtown. A unique Art Screen runs along the division between the plaza and the current post office building, serving as a built in barrier for event. The Art Screen has an equally important function as a display wall for temporary art installations and large scale announcements of upcoming events or exhibitions. The plaza will also feature tree-shaded patio areas to provide seating for permanent and temporary seating areas. Seasonal planting will be added along these areas to provide color and visual interest throughout the year.

Project Oversight and Consultants

Urban Planner and Designer, Andrea Schultz Winter, was selected as the project’s lead design consultant after community stakeholder meetings and a process overseen by the Museum’s Board of Trustees for this project. The construction team, led by project partner, Scott Winter and Winter Construction, manages and collaborates with a number of contractors for the project including: Morse Electric, Fehr-Graham, Helm Group, and Commercial Recreation Specialists (CRS) consultants for the splash pad feature design. Additional consultants and contractors are contributing to the areas of civil engineering, site surveying, irrigation, and other fields.

About the Freeport Art Museum

Established in 1975, the Freeport Art Museum shares the visual and performing arts with the people of northwest Illinois. FAM’s mission is to promote an understanding of art and culture through our collections, exhibitions and education. The museum’s collection contains nearly 4,000 artifacts from all continents and all time periods including ethnographic objects from Egypt, Southeast Asia, and Papua New Guinea; Pre-Columbian and Native American baskets and pottery; excellent 15th to 19th century European painting, prints and sculpture; and a significant collection of contemporary American prints, paintings, and sculpture. The Freeport Art Museum is partially supported by the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency.

The Freeport Art Museum is located at 121 North Harlem Avenue, and is open Tuesday through Friday 10 am to 5:00 pm., and Saturday from 12:00 am to 5:00 pm. Tours may be scheduled by calling 815-235-9755. Admission to the Museum is FREE however, donations are gratefully appreciated.

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