Work on the new McPherson Museum is progressing and on schedule.

Work on the new McPherson Museum is progressing and on schedule.

The outside of the building is nearing completion. Interior walls are up and some electrical, plumbing and painting work has been completed.

The $4 million museum at 1111 E. Kansas Ave. in McPherson is set for a soft opening by Labor Day.

This will include a hospitality center, theater, gathering hall, catering kitchen, museum store and refreshment area.

The gathering hall can be divide into two rooms and will be able to accommodate up to 100 people and open up to a terrace on the east side of the building. The catering kitchen is off the gathering hall and will be available for groups who wish to rent the space.

The front portion of the museum, which includes the theater and gathering hall can be locked off from the exhibit halls. This feature ensures security for the museum artifacts when the front portion of the museum is being utilized for after-hours events by the public.

The theater can accommodate up to 50 people. The museum is looking to partner with Specticast. This is the same company that provides some films for the McPherson Opera House.

Carla Barber, museum executive director, said the museum does not wish to compete with the Opera House. The museum will focus on documentaries and other science or history-based films, she said. Barber said she anticipates the films to primarily to be shown during the day.

The museum will need more time to finish the exhibit areas. Staff hopes to have the opening of the main exhibit hall some time in December.

The main exhibit space is 6,200 square feet. This will include a library, featuring color coffee table books about subjects of interest in McPherson.

Also included in the exhibit will be a fossil exhibit that will feature the museum’s three large complete skeletal fossil — the dire wolf, ground sloth and sabertooth tiger — that were excavated from the La Brea tar pits by McPherson College graduate James Zacchaeus Gilbert.

The museum’s meteorite collection also will be featured in the main hall.

To the east of the main exhibition hall, will be a 1,800-square-feet art gallery. The gallery will exhibit temporary exhibits and art from the museum’s permanent collection. Plans are also being made to feature art from McPherson USD 418 art collection, which may be on long-term loan to the museum.

To the north of the main exhibit hall will be 1,800 square-foot feature gallery that will host traveling and temporary exhibits. The feature hall is adjacent to the museum’s shop, which includes an over-head door. This will make it easier to move in large temporary exhibit items. This could even include cars.

In addition to office and storage space, an oral history room has been constructed, where McPherson residents can make audio recordings of their life stories.

The Mid-Kansas Model Railroaders is sponsoring a model train exhibit on the west side of the main exhibit hall. The exhibit will feature two trains with landmarks from the McPherson area.

To the south of the train exhibit, a room for a Family Adventure Center has been constructed. This area likely will be unfinished at the museum’s grand opening. Funds still need to be raised to complete this project that will focus on children and families.

While the new museum is being constructed, the former museum site at 1130 E. Euclid St. remains closed.

The museum is still in need of funds for the project. Volunteers are needed to help pack artifacts at the old museum.

Those interested in donating or volunteering Barber at 241-8464.