MARSHALL - When the employees of the Southwest Minnesota Arts and Humanities Council got a first look at their new location, it was just bare walls and pipes.
"It was just a shell," said Nicole DeBoer, SMAHC program assistant.
"It was really hard to visualize how this would all turn out," said Greta Murray, SMAHC's executive director.
But once the flooring and walls were finished and desks, bookcases, tables and artwork was being moved in, it started to look more like home.
The Southwest Minnesota Arts and Humanities office and art gallery is moving to its new location at 114 North 3rd Street. The SMAHC board had approved the move at its Jan.24 meeting.
The office and gallery will be open for business on May 1.
Murray said the move had been a longtime dream of SMAHC's.
"We always wanted to be downtown," Murray said. "We thought we'd be more visible. It's really hard to find us where we are now."
Members of the Knights of the Columbus, who own the building, helped with getting the location ready with drywall, walls and ceiling work and painting, Murray and DeBoer said.
Murray said SMAHC's new spot is a prime location within the Marshall "arts district," with the history mural on 3rd Street, the Marshall Area Fine Arts Council's arts center across the street and the gallery at the Daily Grind just right around the corner.
"We want people to come to the gallery and see the wonderful art," Murray said. People from out of town will also be able to find the new location easier, she added.
From 1974, when SMAHC was formed, until 2002, the non-profit organization was located at Southwest Minnesota State University.
"Even then visibility was a problem, it was a huge campus and we're a small office," Murray said. SMAHC then moved to 1210 College Drive.
Having more space will enable SMAHC to facilitate grant workshops and panel and board meetings a little better, Murray said. At the College Drive location, the meeting room and the gallery were in the same spot.
"We're going to have a larger meeting space which will be great for our board meetings and panel meetings," Murray said. And since the gallery and meeting room will be separate, SMAHC can display sculpture and 3-D work, Murray said. The gallery will be in the front of new location, the offices will be in the middle and the meeting room will be in the back.
Murray said that having two art galleries across the street from each other will benefit both SMAHC and MAFAC.
"I think it's going to be great," Murray said.