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ANN ARBOR, MI-The University of Michigan is planning $46 million in improvements to the buildings that house the school’s art and archeological artifact collections. The project is planned both to give students better access to the materials and to draw more visitors to the Ann Arbor campus.

Expansions at the University of Michigan Museum of Art and the Kelsey Museum of Archaeology are planned to start in 2006. Both museums have been crowded for decades, and attendance has suffered because of it.

The Kelsey drew 22,000 visitors last year, in part because it only has space to display 1% of its 100,000 artifacts. Curators were lobbying for more space one year after it opened in 1928.

The Museum of Art is better known, drawing 130,000 people a year, but it also has space troubles. It can display 3% of its 17,000-piece collection, says director James Steward. On average, museums canexhibit about 10% of their items.

The Kelsey has raised $8.3 million toward an $11-million expansion to add 12,000 to 14,000 sf. Almost all the money for the expansion so far comes from an $8 million donation by Rachel and Edwin Meader of Kalamazoo. Rachel Meader is an heir to the Upjohn pharmaceutical fortune.

The art museum’s $35-million expansion is likely to create more of a splash. It will add a 55,000-sf wing to double the museum’s space.

The museum has raised about half the project’s cost. The effort was bolstered by a $10-million donation from the Maxine and Stuart Frankel Foundation of Bloomfield Hills.

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