An institution in eastern Iowa is planning to expand. The National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library has been open a dozen years in Cedar Rapids and has continued to grow in popularity, according to the facility’s president and CEO Gail Naughton.
Naughton says: "Our attendance has doubled. Our collections have more than doubled and we’re running out of space." She says after opening 12 years ago, the museum saw about 16-thousand visitors that first year. Now, it sees more than 32-thousand a year. Naughton wants more room for exhibits and for the library, which has grown from a 5,000-item collection to 30,000 items, most of which stays in a separate warehouse.
Naughton says the expansion should please visitors looking for family history or other cultural information. The expansion should also please tourists and residents who visit the river, according to Doug Neumann, executive director of the Downtown District:
Neumann says, "Their location on the river certainly is an exciting prospect for downtown and everybody concerned with downtown redevelopment." She says the museum could be the southern anchor for the city’s river development.
Naughton says, "This is really the only place where the river is part of the experience here." Officials completed the two-point-five-million-dollar building with no debt. That’s what Naughton also wants with the expansion. A capital campaign will begin later this year. She says breaking ground on the expansion project could still be two years away.
There will be a series of conversations with the public, the first of which will take place at the museum at 5:30 on March 18th.