January 22, 2020
Boston Museum Project Dies as Fundraising Proves too Onerous

Concept design of the now-defunct Boston Museum
February 18, 2013 — The Boston History Center and Museum, a nonprofit that raised nearly $7 million to create the Boston Museum, has shut down after the board earlier this month decided it would not be able to raise the $120 million needed to build the structure on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway.

“We’ve given up the ghost,” said Frank Keefe, CEO of the Boston Museum, quoted in The Boston Business Journal. “The board has decided that we ought to quit. Life goes on.”

When asked if there is any possibility the organization will embark on work or projects relating to its original mission, Louis Miller, board chair, said it was unlikely and that the nonprofit will probably be dissolved.

All the funds raised over the 15-year life of the organization had been spent on plans and operations, Miller said.

The nonprofit sought to construct a multi-story, glass-and-steel building on the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway to create “an institution that will offer the opportunity to reflect on and commemorate the city's past” by creating partnerships with schools, universities, libraries, museums, research institutes, and civic organizations.

The decade long project launched after the elevated Southeast Expressway was demolished in connection with the Big Dig construction project, opening up acres of green space. In October 2005 the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority, which since has been folded into the state Department of Transportation (MassDOT), designated the project as the official developer for Parcel 12.

Conditions on Parcel 12 led to a design change with a smaller project to be built on Parcel 9. MassDot last fall eliminated the museum as a candidate to build on Parcel 9 and asked it to reconsider building on Parcel 12. However, that would have required building the museum on air rights, which, according to the BBJ, would have added $50 million to the project.

In addition to Keefe, a former state secretary of administration and finance, the board had fielded a number of members with deep ties to the state’s business and political communities. Among the more than two dozen members were Roger Berkowitz, president and CEO of Legal Sea Foods; William M. Bulger, former state Senate president and former University of Massachusetts president; Callie Crossley, Boston area broadcast journalist; Jill Ker Conway, former Smith College president; and John F. Fish, chairman and CEO of Suffolk Construction Company.

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