Museum of American Jewish History announces move

New facility could be built on corner of historical Independence Mall.

The National Museum of American Jewish History on Thursday announced plans to build a new facility that it hopes will raise its profile and quadruple the number of annual visitors. The plans call for acquiring and razing a building on a prime corner of Independence Mall, half a block from the museum's current downtown location. Museum director Gwen Goodman would not disclose the price of the building, which houses two TV and two radio stations. The sale should close in June, she said. The stations - KYW-AM, WYSP-FM, KYW-TV and WPSG-TV - have not announced plans to relocate. Goodman expects the building to be demolished in the spring of 2007. The museum would move about two years later into the new facility, which would be 7,200 square meters to 9,000 square meters. Its current 1,350-square-meter home has only 234 square meters of exhibition space. It hosts 50,000 to 65,000 visitors annually. "We have to turn down a lot of exhibits that are offered to us because we don't have the space for them," Goodman said. With a more prominent location within a block of the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall, the new facility could attract 250,000 people in its first year, Goodman said. Officials at the museum - an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution - are in the midst of a $100 million fund-raising campaign in anticipation of the project. Architect James Polshek has begun drawing preliminary designs for the new site. His firm, Polshek Partnership of New York, has designed the American Museum of Natural History's Rose Center for Earth and Space, the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of the American Indian, and the Clinton Presidential Center.