Officials with the National Czech and Slovak Museum and Library in Cedar Rapids broke ground Wednesday on the site of its future expansion and relocation. The building was flooded in June 2008. Museum C.E.O. and President Gail Naughton says it’s taken more than two years to raise the necessary funds and receive the backing of FEMA.
“We met our goal that we set out in the very early days of what we thought we would need for recovery and that was $25 million,” Naughton said. “I think people were worried, people thought it was very ambitious and it was. But Cedar Rapids and Iowa have stepped up for this project. Seventy-five-percent of the money that has been raised so far has been from Iowa or Iowans and we are humbled by that support.”
The museum received $10 million in state I-Jobs funding and a $2.9 million Vision Iowa Community Attraction and Tourism grant. In May, the 20,000 square foot building will be lifted onto wheels and rolled across the street to its new home in order to mitigate future flooding.
Rod Scott is with Patterson Structural Movers, the company doing the job. “This is a national American record. It’s the largest museum that’s ever been moved in the world,” Scott said. “It’s a dream come true for us, we’ve been working on this project for two and half years with the Czech museum.”
Once the museum is moved, the building will be expanded to 50,000 square feet. It’s scheduled to reopen in May of 2012. The cost to move the 15-year-old building is $713,000, compared to $2 million to demolish and rebuild the structure.