Sonoma County Museum moves forward with expansion

The Sonoma County Museum is moving forward with plans to relocate its collection of art and artifacts into a neighboring space long used as a flooring warehouse.

The expansion would allow it to move its collection of about 20,000 objects from a warehouse in Rohnert Park into a temperature- and humidity-controlled archive just east of the 7th Street museum.

The museum has owned the building housing the Conklin Brothers flooring showroom and attached warehouse since 2001. The company's lease expired this summer, and the museum decided not to renew it in order to pursue its expansion.

"Safe long-term housing for the Sonoma County Museum's rich collection of art and historical artifacts has been a high priority for decades," Diane Evans, the museum's executive director, said in a statement. "The decision to take over the Conklin building makes a long-term investment in the cultural history of Sonoma County by ensuring that the museum's collections will be preserved and protected."

The museum expects to spend about $500,000 on the project, which includes both the renovation of the 6,000-square-foot warehouse and upgrades to the existing retail space, Evans said.

The retail space could be leased to a new tenant in the short-term or turned into gallery or programming space in the future, Evans said.

The museum has given Conklin Brothers owner Wayne O'Connor until the end of 2013 to vacate the building. O'Connor said he is in the process of looking for a new location, but thinks it will prove difficult to find a building with good retail and warehouse space.

The museum didn't want to lose the revenue from a long-term tenant, but was forced to make a decision when its own lease on the warehouse space at Sonoma Mountain Village in Rohnert Park expired, Evans said.

Renovation work on the Conklin Brothers building is expected to begin in early 2014.

The museum's goal is to have separate facilities for art and history and a shared facility for collections storage.

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