City Seeks Re-use Ideas for Brooks, Memphis College of Art Buildings

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Memphis College of Art is closing in 2020. - CITY OF MEMPHIS
  • City of Memphis
  • Memphis College of Art is closing in 2020.


The city is seeking “bold visions” for the two soon-to-be-vacant historic buildings in Overton Park.


Officials with the Brooks Museum of Art first announced in 2017 an interest in relocating the museum to Downtown. Soon after, Memphis College of Art (MCA) officials said that the college would be closing in 2020.


Now, the city is seeking ideas for the 86,000-square-foot museum, slated to be vacant in 2024, as well as the 75,000-square-foot MCA building. This call is open to individuals, groups, and organizations from Memphis and around the country.


The city’s goal is to “create a new blueprint for these cornerstone anchors located in the heart of Memphis at Overton Park to ensure that they remain accessible cultural assets for the entire Greater Memphis community and beyond.”


The city released a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the Brooks Museum last year, but decided to relaunch the process to include MCA because of the buildings’ proximity.


Submitted proposals can be for one, both, or part of the buildings. There are five guiding principles identified through community meetings that all submissions should follow. They include assurance of long-term financial sustainability, creative and respectful re-uses, enhancing the park and connecting the spaces to the surrounding community, accessibility, and being a community resource.

The deadline to submit proposals is Friday, May 10th. An 11-member selection committee, comprised of civic and art leaders, will choose the best ideas. Proposals will be selected based on how well ideas adhere to the guiding principles, the impact the idea would have on the Memphis community, and the financial sustainability of the proposal, as funding won’t be available.


The top proposers will be asked to expand on their ideas through a Request for Proposal process. Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland will make the final decision, which then must be approved by the Memphis City Council.


Submit an idea here.

Brooks Museum of Art is slated to relocate in 2024. - CITY OF MEMPHIS
  • City of Memphis
  • Brooks Museum of Art is slated to relocate in 2024.

The Brooks Museum, which has stood in Overton Park for more than 100 years, is slated to relocate to Monroe and Front in 2024. Officials have said that that facility can no longer serve the needs of and requirements of a 21st-century accredited art museum.”


The new building, an approximate $105 million project, dubbed Brooks on the Bluff, will be a “larger and more efficient facility that will elevate the Brooks nationally and internationally with an art museum as unique as its location,” Brooks officials said late last year.


A request for qualifications from design architects for the new building was released in October last year, and Brooks officials are expected to announce its selection in the coming months.


Less than a month later, after Brooks officials expressed interest in moving Downtown in 2017, MCA officials said the school had stopped accepting new students, as it would close soon.


Officials said the school, which was established in 1947, faces “declining enrollment, overwhelming real estate debt, and no viable long-term plan for financial sustainability.”

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