August 15, 2016

The Museum Project

Group Of Young Children Hanging Out In Park

Palo Alto needs a history museum.

Creating a new, long-needed community resource, we are excited to develop a world-class museum which will provide much to our community, including:

  • A free cultural destination in the heart of historic Palo Alto, with innovative exhibitions, programs and resources to tell the story of our community, and our legacy of innovation and far-reaching impact.
  • A teaching location and resource for students and teachers on state and local history. Classroom tours will enrich the curriculum for students from Palo Alto, Stanford and East Palo Alto, whether public, private or home-schooled.
  • Preservation of a community treasure, the Roth Building. Now on the National Register and designed by Birge Clark (brother of PAMF founder/pediatrician, Esther Clark), we will also preserve the murals by Victor Arnautoff, best known for his work at Coit Tower.
  • A climate-controlled repository for artifacts and documents currently scattered throughout our community, preserving our unique local history. We will create a media center and be the permanent home for the City archives.
  • The Museum will be a unique venue for public and private events and a large meeting room will be available for use by the community.

The new year brings good news, and a challenge from the City of Palo Alto to raise $ 1.75M by November 30.

We had an extremely successful session with City Council on December 11. Our progress report was well-received and several community members, including our County Supervisor, Joe Simitian, wrote and spoke on behalf of a Museum to preserve our heritage. After a very constructive discussion, Council unanimously approved our request for an extension to the lease option for the Roth Building through November 30, 2018.

In addition, Council offered new and creative incentives:

  • A challenge grant of over $665,000 in historic preservation funds will be added to the project provided we raise at least $1.75 million by November 30.
  • Time and expertise: council members will work directly with our board to assist in fundraising.

These are tremendous gestures of real support, and we are grateful.

Our next goal is to raise $1.75 million by November 30. Once met, Council will release the challenge funds, discuss the sale of additional preservation funds to benefit the rehabilitation, and they will continue the lease option.

We will need your help to maintain our option to rehabilitate and preserve an extraordinary historic building—and achieve our goal to create a well-deserved history museum for the Palo Alto-Stanford community.

We deeply appreciate all our donors, and commend City Council for the creativity they have extended to preserve and share the history of our community.

But it is YOUR support and gifts that will make this possible. If you can give or make a no-risk pledge, please do so to help us meet this challenge by November 30.

Serious fundraising for the Museum project by community volunteers began about 10 years ago, when rehabilitation costs were estimated at $6-7M. By 2014, construction costs had risen, and costs to install and operate a state-of-the-art museum were added, raising the goal to $20M. Over that decade, thanks to donors like you, we’ve raised close to $10M, some of which has already been invested in architect, City and consulting fees, exhibit planning, fundraising, staff and operations.

1. Rehabilitating the Roth Building for $9.2M,

2. Installing a Museum (exhibits, archives, education room, collections, meeting rooms and public spaces) for $8.8M and

3. Ensuring we have $2M to operate the Museum at a high standard. That adds up to $20M.

Focusing on the rehabilitation, we have $5.7M of the $9.2M needed to complete the Roth construction project, leaving a $3.5M gap. City Council has challenged us to raise half that gap by November 30, 2018.