Museum Project Adjusts To Financial Reality

Planners for the National Law Enforcement Museum in Washington, DC have announced an extended timeline and substantial cost-saving measures “to keep the project on track despite the very challenging economic times that our nation is facing.” The museum–the first in the nation focused on law enforcement–is a project of the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF), a private non-profit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America’s law enforcement officers. Construction is slated to begin in Fall 2010 for the museum–which which will tell the story of law enforcement through high-tech, interactive exhibitions, historical artifacts, and educational programming. It is expected to be complete by mid-2013.

In 2000, the U.S. Congress authorized the museum to be built on federal land across the street from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, and required a start date by November 2010. The authorizing law requires the museum to be funded by private donations.

Craig W. Floyd, Chairman and CEO of NLEOMF reports that more than $37 million has been raised to date for the museum, but he said that the economic downturn has slowed the effort and the credit crisis has made it virtually impossible to borrow money at affordable rates for museum projects. “The credit market and the economy will revive, but the timing is uncertain, and we want to see our museum become a reality sooner rather than later,” Floyd stated. “The story of law enforcement’s extraordinary contributions to our nation needs and deserves to be told. We are going to make it happen.”

“The result of these modifications will be a high-tech, interactive, world-class museum exploring our nation’s law enforcement profession, at a much more affordable price in today’s difficult economy,” said Floyd. “These changes were necessary and fiscally prudent given the stark economic realities we are dealing with,” he added.

The museum will include a research center.
The museum will include a research center.

The new plan has the cost of the project reduced by $29 million; this is largely the result of moving off-site an entire level of administrative space intended for staff and scrapping plans to relocate a maze of utility lines that run under a portion of the land Congress has designated for the museum. In addition to lower construction expenses, the cost of operating the museum once it opens will also be reduced under the new plan.

The overall size of the museum will be scaled back from a four-level, 100,000 square foot building to a three-level, 55,000 square foot facility. “We recognized how hard it is to borrow and raise money in the current economic climate,” said Floyd. “So, we challenged our architects, Davis Buckley Architects and Planners, to develop a plan that would substantially reduce costs without impacting our overall mission, and they figured out a way to make it happen.”

In addition to the administrative level of the building, other areas to be eliminated or reduced include the cafe and atrium space. Two-thirds of the exhibit space will be retained under the revised plan, along with a theater, museum shop, and dedicated areas for education and research. The facility’s glass entrance pavilions and plaza will also remain unchanged. “We are committed to honoring the recognition opportunities that have already been secured by our generous donors, including all of our ‘Thin Blue Line’ and theater seat donors,” said Floyd.

(Rendering courtesy of Davis Buckley Architects and Planners)