The Toledo Museum of Art has unveiled a master plan that should serve the museum and the city well over the next 15 to 20 years. The challenge for the city is to match the museum’s commitment to progress and to beauty.
The institution’s long-term plan is to open up the museum by improving exhibit space and making the facility’s overlooked front entrance on Monroe Street easier to access.
Museum Director Brian Kennedy says the vision would also prioritize green space around the outside of the structure and a campus-like atmosphere.
To attract more visitors to enter the museum from the Monroe Street side, instead of the back of the museum closest to most of the currently existent parking, planners are considering several options. These include building a pedestrian walkway over Monroe Street or an underground walkway below it, rerouting Monroe Street, or implementing methods of slowing down traffic on Monroe.
The ultimate goal of all this is simply to enhance the museum’s basic mission — to create a world-class collection of art from all ages and genres, and one open to the entire community, not the privileged few.
The Toledo Museum of Art is well used by the public, and this is not true of all great museums in America. There is a good reason: Admission to the museum is free.
When Edward Drummond Libbey and Florence Scott Libbey founded the museum in 1901, they intended it to be an asset for the entire city of Toledo. Their dream has been fully realized.
But that does not mean the facility cannot be both more utilitarian and more elegant. That is the aim of the master plan.
Now the city has an opportunity, and arguably an obligation, to do its part by creating a beautified corridor through Toledo.
A mixed-use development in the works for the former Colony neighborhood near ProMedica Toledo Hospital at Monroe Street and Central Avenue promises to create a modern, attractive anchor. At the other end of Monroe Street, downtown, will be the revivified waterfront and Hensville. In between is the museum campus.
ProMedica CEO Randy Oostra has said that he envisions Monroe Street between these two anchors as a grand boulevard.
Let’s do it. Let’s make that happen, and match the museum’s imagination and commitment, with a commitment by the city — to beauty.
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