The Trout Museum of Art Announces Discussion with the City of Appleton for a New Building Project

The Trout Museum of Art is excited to announce we are exploring the idea of building a new, one-story, 30,000 square-foot building in downtown Appleton. The City of Appleton and the museum are considering a new location in the Ellen Kort Peace Park on the Fox River at Water Street. The park location would be an opportunity to place the Trout Museum of Art in the heart of Appleton’s downtown expansion to the waterfront and become a destination spot within the new Ellen Kort Peace Park. The Trout Museum of Art has a wonderful relationship with the City of Appleton and looks forward to discussing the possibilities for a partnership.

A Letter to TMA Members, Donors, and Friends
Expanding Visual Art in the Fox Cities

New Building Project Q & A

Why locate the museum in a park?

TMA is excited to explore the possibility of co-locating the museum within the park. It is common for cultural centers to be located in parks, along county trails, or on rivers and lakes. This will offer the opportunity for joint art and nature learning, collaboration in up-keeping the park, and make the Ellen Kort Peace Park a destination community members come to enjoy or to host events just like they do in City Park or Jones Park. We’re hopeful for this chance to keep the museum in downtown Appleton, while extending downtown to the riverfront.

Explore cultural centers located in parks or on waterfronts.

Milwaukee Art Museum

Aerial view of the Appleton Family Ice Center

Leasing parkland

Cities often lease parkland for sports, culture, art, and other activities that the cities believe would benefit their communities. Appleton has done this in the past. Appleton Ice, Inc. is a non-profit organization that operates Appleton Family Ice Center (AFIC) in Appleton’s Memorial Park. The Trout Museum of Art would like to discuss with the City of Appleton the idea of leasing land in the park for a new nonprofit art museum.

Where will the new Trout Museum of Art be located?

The Trout Museum of Art and the the City of Appleton are discussing a partnership for a possible new location in the Ellen Kort Peace Park. The Common Council will determine whether to authorize the location.

It is our strong desire to remain in Downtown Appleton, and after an extensive search process, it was clear the ideal site is in conjunction with the plans for the Ellen Kort Peace Park on the riverfront.

Through a partnership with the City of Appleton and WE Energies, the new Trout Museum of Art hopes to be located in the Ellen Kort Peace Park in Appleton, WI on Water Street. The park, museum, and the future Nelson Heritage Bridge pedestrian river crossing will provide a wonderful location for people to gather, learn, build community, celebrate, and recreate in a beautiful destination in Appleton. The Ellen Kort Peace Park and the museum will become a destination spot for all who visit and live in the Fox Cities.

Why does the Trout Museum of Art need a new building?

The current 100-year-old home of the Trout Museum of Art will not support the organization without significant investments. Originally built as a furniture store in 1922, the current layout was not built as a gallery or education space, making daily operations and exhibition installation difficult and at times, unsafe for artwork.

A facility review performed by Hoffman Planning, Design, and Construction determined that the current Trout Museum of Art building needed almost $2,000,000 in repairs to bring the HVAC, plumbing, and electrical systems up-to-date and to museum-quality levels.

The board of directors considered these re-investments and future investments in conjunction with the current building design and configuration, versus designing and building a new home. We concluded that in addition to the repairs, the building lacked the needed configuration for a loading dock, freight elevator, exhibit preparation space and storage, event space that doesn’t put artwork at risk, and safe drop-off for students.

Building a new, accredited art museum will ensure safer, more efficient ways to display valuable artwork and increase our cultural and economic impact. A new 30,000 sq. ft. museum will allow for more extensive and special exhibitions, art education classes, public events, and create valuable community partnerships.

What will happen to the current Trout Museum of Art building?

The Trout Museum of Art will remain in its current location at 111 W College Ave, Appleton until it relocates to a new building. At that point, the current building will be sold, and the proceeds used to help fund the costs of the new location.

The current Trout Museum of Art real estate is tax-exempt for charitable nonprofit use. It will return to the City tax rolls when sold to a private party. The future site in Ellen Kort Peace Park is already tax-exempt and will remain so under the new plan. The museum’s move is tax-revenue-neutral while the overall net result for the City of Appleton is tax-revenue-positive.

What activities will happen at the new Trout Museum of Art?

The Trout Museum of Art’s vision to energize the visual arts will not change, but its possibilities will be catalyzed. The number one reason people visit the Trout Museum of Art is to see an exhibit. In the new building, TMA will host more exhibitions in a year that last at least four months, giving more opportunities for exhibits to build momentum with the public and for people to visit from near and far.

TMA will continue to offer its popular summer camps, classes, and workshops throughout the year in both indoor and outdoor settings. Art education is a critical component of TMA’s programming. State-of-the-art classrooms will expand the museum’s class offerings and make teaching and learning about art a fantastic experience.

TMA will continue to offer weekly and monthly FREE educational programs to demographics that benefit from the healing effects of art. TMA offers these programs in partnership with the:

SPARK! Alliance – for adults with memory loss
Outagamie County Youth & Family Services & Shelter Care – for at-risk youth
Harbor House – for domestic abuse victims.

For over 60 years, TMA has presented Art at the Park for local residents and visitors in Appleton’s historic City Park with 200+ artists, food vendors, and more than 30,000 people attending. This summertime art festival will continue to be hosted in City Park on the fourth weekend in July with art, food, music, and entertainment.

How does the Trout Museum of Art’s location in the Ellen Kort Peace Park fit with the park vision?

Ellen Kort (March 26, 1936 – April 21, 2015) was Wisconsin’s first Poet Laureate, serving from 2000-2004. Ellen was also a huge supporter of the arts in her community and a strong advocate for collaboration.

“Our mother was all about the arts and worked with many local artists on projects related to her work,” said two of Ellen Kort’s daughters who live in Appleton, WI.

Will the new museum building impact views of the river?

The City’s walking trail will be located between the building and the river so views will not be affected. The single-story building will be a beautiful addition to this riverfront park and will provide amenities to increase the enjoyment of the park and riverfront. We’re excited to potentially work in collaboration with the Parks and Recreation and Facilities Department to make the parkland a beautiful addition to our city landscape.

The city, community, and museum will work collaboratively to ensure the design is compatible with the park, neighborhood, and city plans.

How large will the museum be?

The museum will be more functional and fit in the neighborhood better with a one-story, 30,000 sq ft. building. The facilities will include multiple galleries, state-of-the-art classrooms, and an Artist in Residence studio. It will also provide opportunities for gathering indoors and outside to celebrate art and art-making.

Other amenities include a Museum Store, bar/cafe, lobby, community space, parking lots, and delivery entrance. The museum will contribute to the vibrant activities in this new waterfront park. The new building will engage the Trout Museum of Art directly with our community including artists, students, educators, and all residents who live and work in the Fox Cities.

How much will the museum cost and who will pay for it?

Dr. Monroe and Sandra Trout contributed five million dollars for this building to the Community Foundation for the Fox Valley Region, which is held in a restricted fund exclusively for the support of this project. We targeted $10 million as the total cost for the building project and will rely upon our generous philanthropic community to provide charitable donations to make this dream a reality for our community.

Who will own the parkland?

The City of Appleton will continue to own the park property beneath the new museum building. The Trout Museum of Art will lease the land from the city. It is common to find art museums and cultural centers in parks in the U.S. We’re excited to potentially work in collaboration with the Parks and Recreation and Facilities Department to make the parkland a beautiful addition to our city landscape.

How will the Trout Museum of Art operate?

The Trout Museum of Art has been a privately funded 501(c)3 organization since 1966 and will remain so after we move to our new location. It will own the building and its leasehold improvements while the City of Appleton will retain ownership of the land beneath it. As a non-profit art organization, the museum’s goal is to serve the public trust and our community,

Who is building the new facility for the Trout Museum of Art?

Dr. and Mrs. Trout greatly admired and appreciated Mr. Oscar C. Boldt’s commitment to the Trout Museum of Art. They requested that along with their financial gift, the Museum board of directors retain the Boldt Company to construct the new museum. The Museum board of directors agreed. Boldt architects will be working with the museum and the city and also listening to community as they develop concept plans for the new museum.

PR Contact

Ashley Acker
Trout Museum of Art
Marketing Manager