Midland Center for the Arts: The Center of Possibility

The Midland Center for the Arts is set to undergo a multi-million dollar renovation with hopes of becoming a statewide and national destination.

Center officials announced early this week that with the support of foundations, individual leadership donations and self-funding, a $47 million improvement project is set to elevate the guest experience. It is being called a “a transformational project.”

John Loos, the MCFTA’s Chief Operating Officer (COO), says, “The project will make [the center] a statewide and national destination to challenge traditional thinking, encourage explorers of all ages to create and provide a space for play and discovery in unique and inspiring way while elevating the visitor experience to new heights for all of our guests.”

MCFTA board chair Lisa Ungerleider echoes Loos, “We can absolutely be a destination for people; nationally and statewide. We want to evolve and expand, but also celebrate the legacy and history [of the building]. It’s a place to be treasured, honored,” she says, “It’s all incredibly energizing.”

Groundbreaking is tentatively set to start sometime in the next 10-12 months with a completion date and grand opening sometime in 2025, says Ungerleider. The project will begin with the reimagining of the Alden B. Dow Museum, historical collections, and art studios. 

The campaign called the “Center of Possibility” will allow guests from the region to continue to explore immersively, research history, and enjoy artistic expression and scientific discovery. So far, the MCFTA has secured foundation and individual leadership donations and will also self-fund. 

Ungerleider says the support of the project is “proof that our inspiring vision to deliver an extraordinary new center to the region is shared by all.” According to a press release, the extensive facility renovations will provide more engaging and welcoming patron interactions, encourage exploration of innovative technology on exhibits, classrooms and archival spaces and will significantly enhance accessibility. 
The Center of Possibility
Renovations/Improvements include:
  • A restored, refreshed and more open STEM and Art Museum with the Hall of Idea’s iconic architectural rings in the Alden B. Dow Museum becoming more visible, reestablishing the museums’ center.  Exhibit spaces will expand, including a fully renovated lower level and additional exploration, providing a total of five floors of science and art exhibition space. 
 Art studios will be redesigned and moved to a more accessible space in the building for both professional art instruction and creative endeavors that encompass a variety of artistic mediums.
  • An accessible and technologically advanced historical archive that is professionally maintained and available for research and understanding in the Center’s main building. This will serve as an interactive space where officials say community history comes alive and is celebrated.
  • A new centralized main entry and lobby space with multi-level views into the interactive museum exhibits. Redesigned, modern activity spaces throughout the center will allow for community gatherings, meetings and celebrations.
In 1971, the MCFTA opened its doors as a facility designed by world-renowned architect Alden B. Dow. From Dow’s philosophical perspective, his design was more than a building, it was an idea without boundaries that stood as a testament to the unlimited spirit of human imagination. 
The goal is hold the grand opening in 2025.
Ungerleider says the center is a “regional gem that embarked upon a transformative journey several years ago. The team has dedicated exceptional amounts of time, expertise and energy to ensure the overwhelming success of this project. We are not going to cut corners. This is going to be careful and measured.”

Architects with experience in historical renovations are working with museum officials on the extensive project. Ungerleider adds, “It’s unquestionably an iconic building. We know we have a special place and we have an incredible chance to evolve and grow. It is a natural progression. Ours is not a complacent board. We are always asking ourselves: “Where can we go next?”


Read more articles by Erika M. Hirschman.

A veteran freelance writer and former reporter with The Midland Daily News, Erika has covered a wide array of topics in and around Midland and Saginaw counties. She’s an award winning reporter, and holds a journalism degree from the University of Detroit-Mercy/Marygrove College. When Erika is not writing, she enjoys dancing in her kitchen with her two dogs and family. She loves to read, cook, travel and go to concerts. She’s lived in Saginaw County for 26 years.