August 12, 2003
Colonial Williamsburg Announces Initiatives to Centralize Museums and Enhance Resort Offerings
Colonial Williamsburg will combine and centralize its two museums, the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum, in a single location as part of a series of new initiatives intended to optimize operations and improve the guest experience. In a related initiative, several significant resort enhancements are planned that will add to the appeal of Colonial Williamsburg’s key lodging properties.
The Folk Art Museum and the Wallace Museum both will be located at the corner of Francis and S. Henry Streets, site of the current Wallace Museum. The Wallace Museum’s former Lila Acheson Wallace Garden, or West Garden, will be converted to exhibition space for the Folk Art Museum. Conversion of the facility is scheduled to begin by mid-2004.
The move will allow greater visibility for the Folk Art Museum and permit it to expand its current exhibition space from 10,800 square feet to 11,200 square feet. Additional benefits of the centralization for the Folk Art Museum include access to the Hennage Auditorium for enhanced programming opportunities as well as a guest dining option at the Museum Café.
“For several years, the Folk Art Museum has not achieved visitation objectives, largely because of its location well outside the Historic Area,” said Ronald L. Hurst, Colonial Williamsburg’s vice president of collections and museums and Carlisle H. Humelsine curator. “By centralizing our two museums on one highly accessible site, we will make each far more visible and our guests will have the convenience of seeing the full range of Colonial Williamsburg’s outstanding collections in one location.” In 2002, visitation at the Folk Art Museum was 82,356 and 216,356 at the Wallace Museum.
Under this plan, the two museums will retain their distinct identities and names, though the complex itself will be referred to collectively as the Museums at Colonial Williamsburg.
“This plan will feature a number of changes large and small,” said Hurst. “For example, we will redesign the Wallace Museum’s entry gallery to reflect the site’s new Folk Art Museum presence. It is gratifying to note that several individuals already have expressed their interest in supporting the Folk Art Museum project and that it will be funded largely with outside gift support.”
The foundation’s ambition to add a street-level entrance wing on the south side of the museum complex remains a priority of the comprehensive Campaign for Colonial Williamsburg currently underway and will be undertaken at a future date.
Colonial Williamsburg’s resort campus, centered around the Williamsburg Inn, Williamsburg Lodge and Golden Horseshoe Golf Club, will gain important enhancements through other related initiatives. The Folk Art Museum and the adjacent Craft House at the Williamsburg Inn are planned to be adapted respectively into a comprehensive spa and a health evaluation center, offering diagnostic services and lifestyle counseling. Outside investors are expected to underwrite these projects. Earlier this summer, Colonial Williamsburg reported the planned relocation of the Craft House to the new College Corner Building in Merchants Square.
“This project, just now in the planning phase, has great potential to provide a wonderful enhancement for our guests as well as the Williamsburg community,” said John Hallowell, president of the Colonial Williamsburg Company’s hospitality group. “It will place our facilities at the forefront of the industry and maintain our position among the leading resorts in the country.”
Established in 1926, the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation is the not-for-profit educational institution that operates the restored 18th-century capital of Virginia. Known worldwide as the nation’s largest living history museum, Colonial Williamsburg also operates hospitality and retail businesses, including five hotels, ten restaurants, two golf courses, a shopping complex, more than two dozen retail stores and catalog sales, the profits from all of which benefit the Foundation’s educational mission. Colonial Williamsburg’s Historic Area is in Williamsburg, Va., 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information or reservations, call toll-free (800) HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg’s Web site at www.ColonialWilliamsburg.org.