SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Utah State University is converting one of its historic buildings into a new museum.

The aging, roughly 90-year-old "Art Barn" will be transformed into the USU Museum of Anthropology as early as December 2012.

The remodeling will need a $4 million fundraising drive, said Museum of Anthropology Director Bonnie Pitblado.

But even in a sagging economy, Pitblado is confident donors will pitch in. The project is a top priority for the university's College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences, she said.

The museum will move from a 2,000-square-foot space that is "so crowded that we're spilling out into the hall," Pitblado said.

Originally built as a stable in 1919, the Barn structure was first intended as an addition to a larger animal complex.

But in the 1950s the school's art department took control and began holding classes there.

Over the next half-century the building fell into disrepair and failed to keep up with building regulations like the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The new plan calls for a silo-shaped addition on the Barn's east side and a restyled facade to restore its vintage feel.

Included in the 11,500-square-foot structure will be a welcome area, artifact prep room and permanent exhibits on display.

Pitblado envisions the space as being more than just a museum. The refurbished Barn will be a welcoming place that will draw families and school groups, Pitblado said.

"People will be able to hang out there," she explained. "I'd like to have an Aggie Ice Cream cart out front and maybe another serving coffee and hot chocolate.

Groundbreaking is planned for March 2012.