The A. E. Backus Museum Has EXPANDED!!
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If good things are worth waiting for, the Backus Museum’s expansion is going to be great. Seven years ago the Museum finalized its plans for a significant expansion of exhibition space. It was awarded a generous $400,000 grant from the St. Lucie County Tourism Development Council and everything looked like a go. Enter the depths of the economic downturn and the brakes were put on the project. Fast forward a long, bumpy seven-year journey and the Museum is at long last poised to break ground on its expansion. The plans have been modified with an eye to sustainability, but they are none the less exciting.

In early June the Museum received notification that it had been awarded a $300,000 capital improvement grant from the Florida Department of Humanities. The grant was an essential piece in the financial puzzle and allowed the project to move forward with confidence. Naturally funds are still needed to complete the entire project’s wish list, but to date the physical structure and exterior improvements are fully funded. Slated to cost in excess of $1.1 million, the Museum currently has over $900,000 in hand. If you would like to help the Museum complete the vision of a multifaceted museum with integrated digital components and a vibrant public presence, please contact the Museum. All contributions are vital and greatly appreciated. Donors will be recognized on a Patrons wall inside the new wing.

The project includes a new 2,500 sq. ft. gallery, built along the entire length of the Museum’s north wall. It will house the growing Backus collection, much of which is currently in storage. The project will also create an exterior exhibition space, known as the Mural Plaza, featuring large panels painted by a variety of artists who will be selected by a community based committee of arts and civic leaders. Space is will be reserved for entries from local students. All murals should depict something about nature and the outdoors, but are not limited in style or technique. Applications will soon be available for artists interested in participating. 

If you have driven by the Museum recently you cannot fail to have noticed that the Sabal Sentinels sculpture, designed and created by local artist Pat Cochran and his hardworking crew, has sprouted from the ground. The concrete and aluminum palms, along with the large digital sign they support, create a place mark for creativity and a significant downtown landmark. The $60,000 project required the collaborative talent and generosity of Fort Pierce City staff and officials, the St. Lucie County Tourism Development Council, visionary artist Pat Cochran, landscape architect Lisa Nelson, engineer Bo Hutcheson, Glo-Master Signs, the generosity and good humor of Rusty Norvell Concrete Pumping and the support of Museum patrons. The sculptural sign is just one example of the Museum’s commitment to bringing art outside for ALL the people. ​

Perhaps the most exciting development is the creation of a permanent exhibit on the Florida Highwaymen. The absence of a museum quality Highwaymen exhibit is something the Treasure Coast has been sorely lacking. In addition to original Highwaymen paintings and narrative text panels, the Museum has developed a 20 minute documentary video exploring the link between Backus and the Highwaymen. It is not a mistake that Ft. Pierce is the epicenter of the only mid-twentieth century African American outsider art movement. The influence of Backus’ artistic and humanitarian generosity catalyzed the Highwaymen phenomenon. Their stories are inextricably intertwined and both stories are the better for it.​

If you would like to make a donation to the Museum or are interested in naming rights 

500 N. Indian River Drive, Fort Pierce, FL 34950 (P) 772-465-0630 (E)