Munson held a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, April 11, to officially kick off a transformational landscape project along its Genesee Street property. The project follows years of planning that began when Munson was allocated more than $800,000 from Utica’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI) grant from New York State. Munson’s is one of the largest projects included in Utica’s DRI grant. The project is estimated to be completed this fall.


The project will include the creation of a 49,000-square-foot public access contemporary park and community space designed by Steele Landscape Architecture with a functional and accessible plan that emphasizes a positive impact on the natural environment and personal wellness.


“The Munson Genesee Street project will transform what is now a treeless and concrete-heavy landscape to a welcoming, park-like setting with trees, gardens, and community spaces,” states Anna D’Ambrosio, Munson President and CEO. “It will create an accessible front entrance to the Museum of Art, a beautiful setting for events, and will recapture the essential neighborhood environment lost over the last few decades.”

With additional support from The Gilbert and Ildiko Butler Family Foundation, Christian and Cheryl Heilmann, and the Family of Cam Sullivan, Munson will also bring to fruition its vision for a fully accessible Genesee Street entrance to the Museum. The steps to an underused plaza at the Genesee Street entrance adjacent to Fountain Elms will be transformed into a beautiful paved, fully ADA accessible garden path leading to a welcoming plaza with tables and chairs for public use and private events.

“Breaking ground today on the transformation of Munson’s greenspace on Genesee Street is met with great significance,” said Utica Mayor Michael Galime. “Each year, Munson is a clear part of Utica’s downtown activities and has always been one of Utica’s greatest assets. With this initiative, we are marking its future as a renewed landmark in our community.”

The current fence and hedge in front of the Museum of Art will also be replaced with a low-visibility railing to maintain the current safety function while allowing the public to view the Museum the way architect Philip Johnson originally intended. With its lower-level glass facade,  the granite building appears almost as if it were floating above the ground.


The new landscape will also include the reinstallation of the Museum’s sculpture Three Arches (1963) by Alexander Calder, the celebrated modern artist whose work is in permanent collections around the world, including the Whitney, the Guggenheim, MoMA, the Centre Pompidou in Paris, and nearby in Albany’s Rockefeller Empire State Plaza Art Collection.


Because the project will be underway through the summer, Munson will relocate this year’s Arts Festival Sidewalk Show, happening July 13-2, inside to the Museum of Art Root Court, with artwork from local artists rubbing shoulders with Hudson River masterpieces represented in Munson’s summer exhibition, American Landscapes. Other Arts Festival favorites, such as the Munson Car Show and Big Prints Steamrollin’ Invitational, will continue to be held on the State Street side of Munson.


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