Describe Coral Gables Museum here
285 Aragon Avenue
Coral Gables, FL 33134
In the mid 1990’s Coral Gables Commissioner Wayne “Chip” Withers began conversations regarding the possibility of integrating a new museum into the City of Coral Gables. From initial living room chats with a group of artists, architects and cultural insiders, a dream began to take shape. Withers found that there was substantial interest in the idea. The Coral Gables Community Foundation volunteered as the fiscal agent for initial funds that were pledged for the museum. Eventually the city government as a whole became involved and a plan was formulated to house the museum in the historic 1939 Police and Fire Station. Subsequent to the police and fire departments vacating the building and moving to their new location in the 1970’s, the building was used for city offices that were to be re-located, and the beautiful old structure, deeply in need of restoration, seemed to be the perfect location for the cultural facility.
In 2003, the non-profit Coral Gables Museum Corp. was formed to direct and operate the museum in partnership with the City of Coral Gables. The City’s Historical Resources Department applied for and received over $1.5 million in state and county grants to rehabilitate the building. In 2005, the Museum Corp. began to raise additional funds, and through the grant funding, the architectural firm of Jorge L. Hernandez was hired for the project.
Eventually, the Museum Corp. determined that additional space would be necessary to make the museum a viable institution. The City agreed, and a new and separate 3000 square foot gallery space was designed, in addition to a beautiful 5000 square foot public plaza, both of which will be located in the surface parking lot currently behind the Old Police and Fire Station.
2007 was a very productive year for the Museum: the City of Coral Gables and the Coral Gables Museum Corp. executed an agreement whereby the City would be responsible for the restoration and rehabilitation of the original structure and the Museum Corp. would be responsible for funding the new construction; the Museum Corp. hired their first employee and the Community Foundation was relieved of their fiscal duties, and a Mission Statement was approved.
In 2008, the construction costs became fully funded and work began in earnest on the project. Dooley Mack Constructors managed the 1.5 year construction project working with a variety of specialized tradesmen and artisans to restore the beautiful 1939 building and construct the Fewell Wing.
The topping off celebration was held in November of 2009. The Certificate of Occupancy was issued in early 2011. The building and all initial exhibits are now open to the public.