Renovations planned for museum

Ethan Metcalf

Construction needed at Museum of Art to meet ADA requirements

The Wichita Falls Museum of Art has received funds to begin renovating parts of the building.  The museum secured $750,444 in donations to fund constructions planned for the building.

Renovations will be made to various parts of the museum to remove asbestos from some of the walls, as well as meet the updated requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act such as wider bathroom stalls, lower soap dispensers and automatic faucets for the sinks.

Director of the museum, Francine Carraro, said a lot more is planned for the museum beyond the ADA improvements to the bathrooms.

“It’s part of a long-range plan for the building, but we can only do what we have the money for,” Carraro said.

Carraro said the museum has to make improvements as funding is received.  Another reason for staggering the construction this way is to keep the museum open as much as they can.

“We are here for the public, so we have to be open as much as possible,” Carraro said.

Other changes to accommodate handicapped visitors include replacing old doorknobs with newer ones that are easier to open, and modifying water fountains to be easier for disabled persons to use.

The WFMA is home to more than just a gallery. Part of the newly acquired funds will go to updating the museum’s multi-purpose room that is rented out for events such as weddings and non-profit fundraisers, making it the museum’s main source of income.

“Jesse Rogers raised funds to remove the wall facing the lake and replace it with a window so the room will have a beautiful view,” Carraro said.

Director of Facilities for WFMA Jeff Desborough said improvements to the multi-purpose room are aimed at making it a nicer area to hold events.

“It’s definitely dated in there,” Desborough said.

He said non-profits hold fundraisers there every month, but he would like to eventually see the room rented out every other day.

“We want everyone to enjoy themselves here – we want them to come back,” Desborough said.

While the funding for these renovations has been approved, contracts for the actual construction are still in negotiation, meaning the improvements are still pending.

“This is all wish list stuff,” Desborough said.  “We are hoping it’s all going to happen, and then some.”

Desborough’s main concern with the renovations is to make sure the museum is completely accessible to any disabled visitors, stating he wants to go above and beyond the minimum requirements of ADA.

“We want to be 100 percent compliant,” Desborough said.

Along with the changes to the bathrooms, Desborough said he wants to make the back doors wider and the front doors easier to open for handicapped individuals.

“We also want to add a button to automatically open the front door,” Desborough said.  “We don’t have to, but we want to.”

While many of the details concerning these renovations are still being worked out, Desborough said construction would be completed in time for the fall semester to start, with a hard deadline of Sept. 1.