Road construction near Weisman deters visitors, officials say

K.C. Howard

It’s 2 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon, and six lonely souls haunt the cool, open galleries of the University’s Weisman Art Museum.

True, the museum is between exhibits and Sundays are usually slow, but museum attendants said University construction deters visitors from perusing one of Minneapolis’ most unique museums.

“We seem to be just an island that is very hard to get to,” said Bill Lampe, who is in charge of building and technical operations for the museum.

The problem consists of two University-area road construction projects forcing some Weisman visitors to go through about 15 minutes of detours, U-turns and headaches.

Construction on the Washington Avenue Bridge’s southbound lanes has closed off the museum’s road exit – the most accessible and easily located entrance to the museum.

East River Road construction running from the south side of the Weisman to the western edge of the Variety Club Research Center, makes entering the museum from the south impossible. However, East River Road is still clear north of the Weisman through to its University Avenue Southeast intersection.

“(The entrance) is not really well marked,” said Robert Peterson, a University alumnus who attempts to stroll through Weisman twice a year. “It was not easy to get here.”

Weisman attendants have noticed a decrease in visitors and an increase in directional-aid calls since the construction projects began this spring.

It took a while for taxi drivers to learn the new route as well, said Lampe.

“About three out of four people come to the information desk and complain about it,” said University student and Weisman events staff member Nick Gadbois.

The University plans to complete both projects at the end of August.

In the meantime, Weisman visitors can call the museum’s information desk at (612) 625-9641 for concise directions or access the detour map on the University’s construction Web site: www.facm.umn.edu/facm/construction.htm.

While Lampe acknowledges construction has isolated the museum, he maintains hard work and persistence will get even the most directionally disabled to the museum. “People who are determined to get here will find a way,” he said.

 

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