The Senator John Heinz History Center has bought a nine-story building at 1221 Penn Avenue, which is just behind the current facility. The addition will serve as a storage facility for the museum's 50,000 artifacts.
"It'll be connected to the History Center by a bridge or walkway, and that will allow us to bring collections into our loading dock and up to the fourth floor and across the bridge into the new William S. Dietrich Museum Support Center," said Andy Masich, president and CEO of the History Center.
It will be so named after the late Dietrich, a long-time History Center Trustee.
The museum support center will be upgraded to include a working freight elevator and temperature and humidity controls that will keep the facility at Smithsonian levels, which is about 45% to 50% relative humidity at about 65-70 degrees year-round. Fluctuations in humidity can harm museum artifacts.
In addition to housing museum collections, the new building will serve as a store front for conservation services for the public.
"People bring us their art and artifacts, their family albums or grandma's wedding dress and ask us how to preserve them, and we reserve those people to conservators, people who conserve and restore objects," said Masich.
The History Center will be the first museum in the nation to provide such services to the public.
The rehabilitation of the new Dietrich Museum Support Center will cost an estimated $3 million, and is partially funded from a variety of sources, including private gifts, grants, and earned income from the conservation center. The support center is expected to open in early 2013.