It’s back to the drawing board for a new Dubois Museum building; Second story out, square footage reduced

(Dubois, Wyo.) –Reductions in square footage and construction costs for a new Dubois Museum building were discussed at the last Fremont County Museum Board meeting  in Riverton. According to Dubois Museum director Katrina Krupicka Dingman, the original proposal to construct a 14,500 square foot facility at a cost of $4-4.5 million was met with a request to re-visit the needs of the museum and come up with alternatives at a budget hearing held on May 20th.

Krupicka-Dingman explained that she and the Fremont County Museum Board members re-examined their priorities to “come up with a list of what we need most” to best  serve the community of Dubois. The most important need identified was for storage of the artifacts currently housed at the Museum to insure their preservation. Discussion of an 8,000 square foot structure with a significant increase in climate controlled storage for artifacts made of materials subject to deterioration such as fabric and leather, inclusion of movable cabinets with wheels to optimize storage arrangements, provision of work space and to double exhibit space from that of the existing museum was met positively by the County Treasurer and the County Museum Board. The existing Dubois Museum building  is approximately 1,700 square feet with other Museum artifacts  displayed in seven historic structures that surround the main exhibit building.

Design of a one story 8,000 square foot building  which would significantly reduce the construction costs associated with the elimination of an elevator and reduce excavation, fill and building material costs with a preliminary construction budget of $2-2.5 million was discussed. In addition, maintenance, heating and cooling costs would be reduced. It was noted that with the construction of a smaller building, no staffing increase would be necessary.  Administrative offices would remain in their current location at the Seipt House on the Museum grounds unless an additional wing was to be funded and added to the new structure in the future. With the new building configuration and site planning, all historic cabins on the property would remain in their present locations.

The same building materials originally proposed in the 14,500 square foot architectural design would be incorporated into the new building design, with concrete formed logs and moss rock being identified as building components, and the re-use of salvaged rough-hewn wood beams from the existing museum structure to be incorporated into the new lobby area. Ms. Krupicka Dingman stated, “A smaller building footprint will actually fit the site better and blend in more with the landscape and surrounding structures; the National Bighorn Sheep Interpretive Center and Headwaters Arts & Conference Center.” When asked if there were preliminary plans or a time line to development new schematic drawings she noted that there were “currently no anticipated dates for new schematics.”

Funding for the development of new architectural and engineering drawings is within the budget determined at the October 2011 Fremont County Commissioners meeting. There, the County Commissioners recommended the Capital Improvement and Maintenance Program’s Long-term Committee  award a $125,000 grant from the Fremont County General Fund with a 3 year period in which to utilize the funds. The time frame to date in architectural and engineering design has been one year.

The topic of transferring land that the Dubois Museum is currently situated on from the Town of Dubois to Fremont County was discussed at the museum board meeting as well. In the proposed  land transfer, the eastern most boundary of the land would change so that the land that the Dennison Lodge sits on would remain in ownership by the Town of Dubois. Language included in the transfer is still in under review by the County Attorney.

A row of historic cabins, including a former backcountry ranger station to a building housing photos and artifacts from the Tie Hack era, and more, are featured on the campus of the Dubois museum.

A row of historic cabins, including a former backcountry ranger station to a building housing photos and artifacts from the Tie Hack era, and more, are featured on the campus of the Dubois museum.

The Dubois Museum's main exhibit building.

The Dubois Museum’s main exhibit building.