In a double-barreled celebration of anniversaries — its own first decade and the 90th birthday of its predecessor — the Figge Art Museum is offering free admission until Sept. 20.

The free admission is thanks to a $50,000 grant from the Riverboat Development Authority, or RDA.

"We've tried to focus our priorities on bringing quality exhibitions to the Figge and I'm sure that will continue for some time," RDA president Randy Rathje said at a Friday morning news conference.

"A lot of times we look for opportunities to leverage dollars," he added. "We're using our dollars to leverage people."

The 13 weeks of free admission comes as the museum is close to ending its fiscal year with the highest attendance in its history, said Figge development director Raelene Pullen.

"We beat the numbers from when the museum first opened," Pullen said of the 75,000 figure, which does not include school group tours nor those who attend events in the lobby and don't go into the galleries.

"We are very excited to see what that will mean to the attendance at the museum, and we would love the opportunity for us to welcome the community," she added.

She said there was no projection on how many visitors the Figge might get thanks to the free admission.

"The sky is the limit for us," she said.

The 114,000-square-foot Figge opened in August 2005. It will celebrate its anniversary with a dinner for donors on Sept. 10 that will feature Sir David Chipperfield, the British architect who designed the building as part of the beginnings of his worldwide portfolio.

The Davenport Museum of Art opened in October 1925 in the former Battery B Armory building on 5th Street, with a donation of 334 paintings from the collection of former Mayor Charles August Ficke. A new gallery opened on 12th Street in May 1963 and rechristened as the Davenport Museum of Art.

Museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Saturdays (until 9 p.m. Thursdays) and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays.

Pullen said Figge staff hopes that Quad-City area residents and visitors not only make their first trips to the Figge, but return often during the free time period.

Rathje concurred.

"This is one of the best-kept secrets in our community," he said.

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