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Heritage Center addition plan $52.4M

The North Dakota Heritage Center in Bismarck will nearly double in size by 2014 if plans by the State Historical Society pan out. The society unveiled plans in Fargo on Monday for a $52.4 million 97,000-square-foot addition to the Heritage Center...

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The North Dakota Heritage Center in Bismarck will nearly double in size by 2014 if plans by the State Historical Society pan out.

The society unveiled plans in Fargo on Monday for a $52.4 million 97,000-square-foot addition to the Heritage Center.

Merl Paaverud, director of the State Historical Society, said he wants to turn the center on the Capitol grounds into a "hub of history."

"We want to build something that will be a destination for the world," Paaverud told 30 to 35 people attending a luncheon at Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Dakota's main office.

The State Historical Society's goal is to raise $12 million in private donations, Executive Director Virginia Berg said. Of that, about $3 million to $3.5 million has been collected. She said $5.3 million will be sought in a program that seeks $10,000 donations from around the state. The remainder will come from large personal and corporate contributions, she said.

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Most of the cash, about $40 million, will be requested from the Legislature over the next two bienniums, she and Paaverud say. Federal funds will also be sought.

"We need the space," Berg said. "We're out of space."

Plans call for three new galleries:

- First People's Gallery, focusing on the history of American Indians on the Northern Plains.

- Geological Time Gallery, about the hundreds of millions of years that preceded the arrival of people in North Dakota. The exhibit will include dinosaur fossils.

- Governors Gallery, an area designed for high-profile, temporary exhibits.

The main gallery will be redesigned as the Inspiration, Opportunities and Innovation Gallery.

Other plans include:

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- Hub of History Information Center, offering computer-generated maps and ticketing information for sites and activities in the state.

- North Dakota Corridor of History, a 25-foot-wide passageway connecting exhibits, with floor exhibits and high-tech wall exhibits.

- Great Plains Theater, a 60-seat theater for Smithsonian-quality programs.

- Northern Lights Atrium, a brightly lit glass and steel entry.

- A cafe, outdoor patio and 120 new parking spaces.

- Children's galleries with interactive, hands-on labs.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Helmut Schmidt at (701) 241-5583

Helmut Schmidt is a reporter for The Forum of Fargo-Moorhead's business news team. Readers can reach him by email at hschmidt@forumcomm.com, or by calling (701) 241-5583.
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