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Biggs Museum Launches Master Plan for Expansion with SmithGroup

Kicks off Community Listening Sessions

Dover – DE, The Biggs Museum of American Art is poised to kick off expansion efforts, and has announced that SmithGroup, one of the nation’s leading integrated design firms, has been selected to spearhead the efforts.

In September 2021, the Biggs acquired two historic buildings adjacent to the current museum, 15 – 21 The Green. Long known for its historic art collection and a robust schedule of special exhibitions, the natural inclination for newfound museum space would be simply to show more artwork. However, the Museum had its eyes set on long term goals beyond that. “This type of expansion is a once in a lifetime opportunity for us. We don’t want to focus solely on being bigger, but on serving community needs and interests to deliver the best possible experience,” says Biggs Museum Director, Michael Dudich.

Led by SmithGroup, the Museum will conduct a series of community listening sessions. In these gatherings stakeholders and focus groups will meet to re-imagine the museum’s ideal visitor experience to determine the best use and layout of the new space and rethink existing spaces. These important conversations will have a long-term impact, as the outcome will shape the Museum’s place on Dover’s Historic Green and impact thousands of residents and visitors a year.

“SmithGroup was the natural choice for this project. They’ve worked with a number of art museums and cultural institutions across the country. They have a wealth of expertise in combining historic and contemporary structures to elevate the space in a way that can transform a visit into an experience,” Dudich added.

SmithGroup’s Cultural practice features an extensive portfolio of award-winning projects around the globe. Some of its recent work with art museums includes the ongoing renovation and expansion of the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond, Virginia, and the re-envisioned Thomas Gilcrease Institute for American History and Art in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

“The Biggs Museum has an amazing opportunity to integrate two historic buildings into their current museum footprint to transform the collection of buildings into holistic and inspiring spaces that are set to serve the community for generations to come,” said Jim Shepherd, SmithGroup’s director of historic preservation.

The museum recently kicked off its listening sessions with the education community. Numerous teachers participated in a visioning workshop as part of the Delaware Art Educators Association Conference providing the museum with their perspectives on how the art education needs of students could be advanced by partnering with the Biggs and utilizing the Museum’s resources. A number of additional engagement sessions are planned over the next month.  If you would like to share feedback by taking a brief 6 question survey, or by enrolling in a community listening session or focus group, please visit:  

SmithGroup ( is one of the world’s preeminent integrated design firms. Working across a network of 19 offices in the U.S. and China, a team of 1,300 experts is committed to excellence in strategy, design, and delivery. The scale of the firm’s thinking and organization produces partnerships with forward-looking clients that maximize opportunities, minimize risk and solve their most complex problems. SmithGroup creates exceptional design solutions for cultural and higher education institutions, science and technology organizations, healthcare, urban environments, diverse workplaces, mixed-use and waterfront developments, and parks and open spaces.