Ideas swirl for Brooks Museum, MCA spaces at Overton Park

Ideas swirl for Brooks Museum, MCA spaces at Overton Park

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - A new school, a restaurant, or an African-American art gallery – these are just a few of the proposals to re-purpose the Memphis College of Art and Brooks Museum.

Tours were offered in both buildings this week to show the potential each space has for transformation.

From the courtyard outside to the wood shop inside, every part of Rust Hall's 75,000 square feet is being toured.

Kevin Won is among the final 100 students who will graduate from the College of Art before it closes next year. "I think I'm just more excited to see what the building's gonna turn into,” Won said.

Consultant U-3 and EpiCenter Memphis, a group that helps entrepreneurs, partnered with the City of Memphis on the Create Your Space program, soliciting ideas on what to do with the historic building.

"No matter what size it is, no matter how big your thinking, we want to hear it,” said U-3 advisor Nicole Buchholz.

Restaurants have shown interest, as have private developers.

"We've also had a lot of people focused on education...ideas that bring more youth into the space,” said Kerri Malone with Epicenter Memphis.

Abby Phillips's group Arrow imagines Rust Hall becoming a creative district. Artists, galleries, art classes, micro retail and a cafe all under one roof.

"I think the entire city would like to see this building continue as an arts organization that's open to the public, that's inviting, that continues the educational component and uplifts the community,” Phillips said.

The Metal Museum of Memphis also interested in moving into Rust Hall.

As Won finishes up his college career, the young artist is hoping the building he called home isn't done with art.

"As long as it's gonna remain a creative space, I'm happy with that,” Won said.

Ideas for the Brooks Museum, which is relocating downtown, include a school or gallery with African American art. The City of Memphis is accepting proposals until April 30 at this link.

Finalists will be announced 2 weeks later.

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