Times Staff Writer

The Laguna Art Museum is mounting another fund drive--this time to raise $500,000--so it can put the finishing touches on reconstruction of its main facility, due to reopen Sept. 23.

Museum backers have already raised $1.5 million to pay for the structural and planning costs for expansion of the three-gallery, 56-year-old building in central Laguna Beach.

But because of rising construction costs and "design refinements," backers say they now need an added $375,000 to pay for additional equipment, furnishings and landscaping, plus $125,000 to invest in new educational, exhibition and collections programs.

Also, although the museum had initially announced a plan to expand the existing 9,000-square-foot, three-level structure by another 6,000 square feet, the final plan now allows for a 10,000-square-foot expansion, according to museum director William Otton.

Designed by the WZMH Group, the plan provides for five new galleries and a spectacular atrium entry, major upgrading of bookstore, administrative and storage areas and installation of new lighting, air-conditioning and fire-protection systems.

The increased costs, said board President Thomas Tierney, have been caused in large part by design additions approved since 1984 by the board. "As our vision of the project expanded, so did the design refinements and needs," Tierney said. "When the project is finished, it will be something the community can be truly proud of--a real regional facility."

(When the first fund drive was launched in December, 1983, the building cost was estimated at $850,000.)

Tierney and board members Marla Bird and Barbara Steele Williams are co-chairing the new $500,000 drive, called the "Homecoming Campaign."

On Sept. 11, a "Grand Premiere Dinner" fund-raiser will be the first of several private events preceding the museum's public reopening.

"Early Artists in Laguna Beach: The Impressionists," organized by Janet Dominik, will be one of the reopening shows. Others will be photographic works from the museum's own holdings and contemporary works from the Security Pacific collection.

Otton said a major retrospective on Elmer Bishoff will be exhibited in November. Mounted by the Laguna Art Museum, the Bishoff showing was on display at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art in January and will be at the Phillips Collection gallery in Washington in September.

Since the Laguna Art Museum's main facility was shut down in April, 1985, Otton and his staff have been housed at the Great American Savings Bank branch in downtown Laguna Beach.

The museum has also operated a satellite facility since October, 1984, at the South Coast Plaza Mall in Costa Mesa. Under the present agreement with C. J. Segerstrom & Sons, the mall's operator, the museum has use of a rent-free storefront until the end of December. Otton said a decision is pending on whether the satellite facility is to continue beyond 1986.

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