FARMINGTON — City officials and community members broke ground Wednesday afternoon on a long-anticipated $1.9-million Farmington Museum project at Gateway Park.

The planned museum expansion and wing is intended to house a new energy industry exhibit and provide more space for museum collections.

Bart Wilsey, Farmington Museum director, called the groundbreaking a tremendous day for the museum.

"(The city has been) working on this project since before I started here 14 years ago," Wilsey said. "It was always on the books and on the plan. There used to a square marked here that said future museum expansion."

Although the new wing will add valuable space, the addition of temperature and humidity climate control technology will prove to be crucial assets to the museum's future, he said.
City and community officials break ground for a new wing at Farmington Museum at Gateway Park Wednesday afternoon.
City and community officials break ground for a new wing at Farmington Museum at Gateway Park Wednesday afternoon. (Greg Yee/The Daily Times)


"Objects need a stable environment to be preserved," Wilsey said. "It's also going to give us some further opportunities with our traveling exhibits."

Once all the final permits and agreements are signed, construction should wrap up around winter, he said.

"We expect to open right around Christmas," Wilsey said.

About one year ago, the city council decided to refinance existing debt on city bonds to raise $9 million for five projects, including the museum wing expansion, said Mayor Tommy Roberts.

"I want to recognize members of the museum staff," Roberts said. "They've waited quite some time. I think the city has followed through on a promise made many years ago."

The new wing is the first of two planned additions to the Farmington Museum that will provide more space, and allow more flexibility for traveling and new exhibits, according to a presentation to city council in November 2012.

The new wing's central feature will be the energy exhibit highlighting the history of the oil, gas and energy industry in the San Juan Basin.

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City council on March 19 approved a $1.9 million expansion project at the Farmington Museum. This rendering shows what the new addition is expected to look
City council on March 19 approved a $1.9 million expansion project at the Farmington Museum. This rendering shows what the new addition is expected to look like. (Courtesy photo)
Greg Merrion, president of Merrion Oil and Gas, said the new wing should prove to be an invaluable asset to the community and contribute to economic development, education, the local arts community and recreation among other areas.

"I think it'll bring people to the area," Merrion said. "It certainly recognizes the energy business."

Rick Sarver, Museum Foundation board president and representative of the Public Service Company of New Mexico, said that the new wing will give an opportunity to document the long history and contributions of the energy industry in Farmington and San Juan County.

"Future generations can come here and look," Sarver said. "It's been a long wait. We're happy with the fact that the project is moving along."

Greg Yee can be reached at gyee@daily-times.com; 505-564-4606. Follow him on Twitter @GYeeDT.