The New Bedford Art Museum/Artworks is planning to expand its exhibit space by renovating the second floor of its building on Pleasant Street.

Director Ashley Occhino says one of the goals is to show more of the city's art collection, now housed at the Downtown Library.

Occhino tells WBSM News, while the library displays much of the collection, there is so much more that has been rarely seen. "We really look forward to working with them to really pull out all these wonderful pieces that they've collected over the years, and display them in a way that would take them into the 21st century."

Occhino says the expansion project is still in its early stages, but she's working with a "Dream Team" of architects and consultants to plan the project. "We're really having these really very deep dives, conceptual talks and looking at drawings and thinking about what is the best use of this space to protect and exhibit this collection, and also contemporary art as well."

Occhino says the project would also address the structural integrity of the building.

But there is still much to be done, including developing a funding plan, relocating the Community Development offices, and devising an environmentally-friendly location to protect works of art that might be displayed there.

Occhino says her best guess is that the project could be completed in a few years. "We don't want to rush into it, but we do sense an urgency to make this project happen, said Occhino.

"We realize that arts and culture is at a wonderful state in New Bedford and we want to be on par with that."

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