WASHINGTON (AP) — The Smithsonian Institution has awarded a $2.4 million contract to a group of Danish architects to improve the visitor experience at its oldest buildings on the National Mall.

The museum complex hired New York-based BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group on Tuesday to develop a plan to improve amenities and create new engagement with visitors. After a plan is approved, fundraising will begin for improvements.

The project is focused on the Smithsonian Castle, the Arts and Industries Building, the Freer Gallery of Art, the National Museum of African Art, the Hirshhorn Museum, Sackler Gallery and Ripley Center.

Smithsonian officials are asking architects to create a better orientation space for millions of visitors, enhance underground museums that are nearly invisible, connect the various buildings and make their gardens more active with cafes or events.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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