Trout Museum no longer looking at Ellen Kort Peace Park location

The board of directors voted against Ellen Kort Peace Park as a site to expand the art museum
Published: Mar. 1, 2023 at 5:23 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 2, 2023 at 10:55 PM CST
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APPLETON, Wis. (WBAY) - The Trout Museum of Art in Appleton announced Wednesday it’s no longer considering the Ellen Kort Peace Park as a site for relocating the museum.

The museum and its board of directors said they’re exploring other locations to expand the facility after an environmental site assessment indicated they could have a greater financial and regulatory burden building at the park, in addition to the park’s history.

Neighbors of the park raised concerns about the loss of green space and a lack of parking, but the Appleton common council narrowly voted last October to continue discussions about the museum acquiring the property.

The Trout Museum of Art was proposing a building with about 30,000 square feet up against the Fox River on the park’s western side. The design presented in October showed the building and parking lot would take up 19% of the park and had green space on the roof of the one-story building.

“There was a number of considerations that went into deciding not to use the Ellen Kort Peace Park as our future location. A lot of that had to do with the community, with the results we got from the back from the environmental report, and just future financial burdens that it would have put on the museum,” museum marketing manager Ashley Acker said.

Appleton Mayor Jake Woodford said the environmental analysis was a top priority before making any final decisions about a location.

“Because once we get beyond that step of the planning process, we’re deep into city-level analysis. That’s extremely consuming staff time and effort on the part of the city,” Mayor Woodford said.

In 2021, the Trout Museum of Art determined it would cost $2 million to bring its downtown Appleton building to museum-grade quality. Instead of reinvesting in the current building, it wanted to invest $10 million in a new site.

Executive director Christina Turner told us, “We have gotten overwhelming support for a new museum from the community. Even people that had voiced concerns about us being in the Ellen Kort Peace Park area sent messages saying, ‘We love the museum. We would like to see the museum in downtown Appleton, we just prefer you to find a location somewhere else.’”

Acker said the museum is looking to stay downtown and there are more sites in contention for the new building.

In a statement announcing the decision Wednesday, Turner wrote, “We remain steadfast in our commitment to our mission of inspiring and connecting all people through creative experiences and the visual arts and look forward to finding a more feasible location that will excite our community.”