ARLINGTON, VA-The Museum of the Americas will go from its current existence as a virtual art gallery to an actual museum, as the Museum of the Americas Foundation secures the former 65,000-sf home of the Freedom Forum’s Newseum for its $30-million “move.”

After a period of planning to construct its own building, MOA will now lease the space at 1101 Wilson Boulevard from owner Westfield Property for an undisclosed amount. The new facility, which MOA officials hope to open in the fall of 2003, will be the first museum in the area dedicated specifically to the art and culture of North, Central and South America, and the Caribbean.

Initially developed by members of the Organization of American States and the Inter-American Development Bank via the four-year-old MOA Foundation, the one-year-old virtual collection exists only in an online gallery format at MuseAmericas.org. Its virtual collection of artworks is, in effect, endless because MOA takes its content from 300 museums in 35 different countries. The former Newseum space will house a rotating collection of artworks culled from the affiliate museums around the world.

“This is definitely going to happen,” MOA Foundation president and COO Lucy M. Duncan tells GlobeSt.com. Her confirmation comes amid recent media speculation that the arrangement was not a done deal. “We’ve had extremely good meetings with Westfield and we see no reason why we won’t go forward.” Bringing the museum alive at the former Newseum site will cost the foundation a mere 10% of what it had originally planned to spend on the development of its own building. Financial savings, however, did not serve as the sole motivation behind the decision to lease as opposed to build. “The building was just too wonderful to not look at it,” Duncan says. “Its architectural design is so in line with what we want to do. It couldn’t be better.” Like the Newseum, MOA will be a high-tech venture. “We are a very technology-driven organization,” she says, “and that has had a tremendous impact on our decision.”