The museum will add an 8,700-square-foot room to its existing 50,000 square-foot facility, said Richard Banz, museum director.
The research area will be used primarily to store items such as records, documents, photographs, news articles and other artifacts.
“We have a large volume of collections that need to be stored,” Banz said.
The collection includes papers from all the past presidents of the Southern Railroad, 45,000 rare photos of old railroads, blueprints of railroad cars and information about the role railroads played found in news articles about Jim Crow laws.
The research area of the museum is over packed, Banz said, but with extra room, visitors would be able to spread out items from the archived collection.
The storage space will also ensure documents are property preserved with easier access to the public. Banz said the museum will also start digitizing the archived documents so a broader audience can access documents online.
The expansion project will cost almost $927,000, with the majority of funding coming from federal grants and $125,000 from money raised by the Kennesaw Museum Foundation.
The foundation, which was established in 1998 and led by President Paul Chastain, hosts annual events such as a gala, 5K run and golf tournament to raise funds for the educational programming. For this project, Banz said the foundation focused on private sponsorships and corporate contributions.
“There are a lot local business, a lot of individuals, a lot of corporate dollars that fills that pot,” Banz said about the separate funding.
On Monday, the council will vote on whether to award a contract bid to the Powder Springs-based Prime Contractors, Inc., who placed the lowest of four bids with the city.
Banz said construction will start this summer and last six to eight months.
The new space will be constructed on a portion of the museum site that is used for parking, eliminating possibly one or two rows of spaces. But Banz said there is city-owned property behind the parking lot that could be used for parking expansion in the future.
The Southern Museum is home to the General locomotive, made famous during the Great Locomotive Chase of 1862.
In 2008, the museum added the Jolley Education Center, an 8,000-square-foot space that hosts many of the museum’s educational programs for children and their parents with hands-on and interactive exhibits.
The museum also houses the Cobb Energy Gallery, featuring traveling exhibits from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service.
Councilman Leonard Church, who is the museum liaison, said “we have been able to expand the exhibit so greatly throughout the years” with loaned and donated artifacts “to tell the history of Kennesaw.”
Because The Southern Museum is a building block for downtown to draw in visitors, Church said it garners a lot of support from the community.
“We are going to make sure that museum stays open,” Church said. “It is the pride of Kennesaw.”