Police and FBI investigators are excavating the basement at 179 Prince Street in New York's SoHo neighborhood in a search for evidence relating to the disappearance of the 6½-year-old Etan Patz in 1979.

The building's basement has been in use as storage and occasional exhibition space by the newly accredited Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay and Lesbian Art, headquartered nearby at 26 Wooster St.

The Leslie-Lohman Gay Art Foundation, as it was then called, began to use the space in the mid-1990s, long after the events in question, the museum's Julia Haas told A.i.A.

The museum has issued a statement:

"We at the Leslie-Lohman Museum of Gay & Lesbian Art would like to extend our deepest sympathies to the Patz family regarding the disappearance of their son Etan on May 25, 1979. 

"Although there is an annex storage space to the Museum on Prince Street where Etan was last seen, at the time of his disappearance the space had no affiliation with the Museum. 

"However, we will provide our full cooperation to the FBI to help them achieve resolution to this case."

The same building was the location of Food, Gordon Matta-Clark’s restaurant, for three years beginning in 1971.

Photo: Leigh Anne Miller