Upcoming decision on the firm of architects and engineers

By Rebecca J. Barnabi
For Augusta Free Press

Virginia Museum of Natural History
Image courtesy of Virginia Museum of Natural History

The detailed design for the Waynesboro branch of the Virginia Museum of Natural History has been approved by the Commonwealth for funding and the next step is to select an architecture and engineering firm to make the design a reality.

“So this is a pretty big step that really starts to finalize the plans for this building,” said Joe Keiper, executive director of the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville.

The building, which will be located at the corner of Arch Avenue and Main Street downtown, will be 25,000 square feet on 2.5 acres and will cost approximately $20 million from groundbreaking to construction. State funding will help cover the costs, which means the project must follow state guidelines.

Keiper said qualified companies interested in Virginia’s cultural institutions and museums will soon be asked about their experience building museums and their ideas for the project in Waynesboro.

“We want to talk to them about their vision,” he said. The candidate pool includes “awesome companies with impressive credentials.”

According to Keiper, the detailed design will be completed within a year, including the design of the exhibition spaces. And the inauguration will take place, hopefully, in 2024.

“I can’t say enough about the people of Waynesboro, Augusta County and surrounding areas,” he said.

City councils, city staff and service organizations have been helpful and supported in efforts to make the museum a reality.

Keiper said the action to bring a branch of the museum to Waynesboro was led by Del. John Avoli and Senator Emmett Hanger.

“If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t be where we are now,” Keiper said.

He also credits the Center for Coldwaters Restoration in Waynesboro, a member of which will be involved in the maintenance process for an architectural and engineering firm.

“They’ve really been the backbone of our local efforts.”

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