PHILADELPHIA-The state gives efforts to renovate, upgrade and expand the Philadelphia Museum of Art a jump-start with $12.5 million in capital budget redevelopment assistance. Last month Gov. Schweiker designated the world-class, 633,825-sf museum a “commonwealth treasure.”

The present building, at Benjamin Franklin Parkway and 26th St., was constructed in 1928, and this will be its first major expansion since its completion. Upgrading will include both esthetic improvements and such essential upgrades as a new fire and safety system.

Planned improvements also include conversion of the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building, which is located near the complex, into a museum facility with new galleries. It was built in 1926 and acquired by the museum in 1999.

In a statement, H. F. “Gerry” Lenfest, chairman of the museum’s board of trustees, commended Schweiker for his “vision and leadership in recognizing and supporting the need to renovate our landmark structures and make the necessary improvements to the building systems.” The funds will be matched by city and private contributions.

The Philadelphia Museum is among the largest museums in the US and widelyrecognized as one of the most important.