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Experts meet on museum
National Slavery Museum holds planning session in Chicago

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Date published: 5/1/2003

Symposium set to develop plan

The National Slavery Museum will hold a symposium in Chicago today and tomorrow to plan for its 2007 debut in Fredericksburg.

The symposium, which is not open to the public or the media, will bring together experts in museum design and management, history, fund raising, architecture and organizational development.

This is the museum's second brainstorming session; another one was held at Howard University in Washington last year.

In a news release Tuesday, Executive Director Earl Yates said the purpose of the two-day event is to "give us a solid basis for refining our thinking and our planning of the simultaneous lines of action that we will carry out over the next four years."

The museum is slated to be built on 38 acres along the Rappahannock River in Fredericksburg's planned Celebrate Virginia tourism complex. The land was donated to the museum by the Silver Cos., Celebrate Virginia's developer.

Former Gov. Douglas Wilder, the museum's founder and chairman of its board of directors, has said he expects the project to cost between $100 million and $200 million. Preliminary plans for its content include exhibits of artifacts, a replica of a slave ship, a library, a virtual-reality theater and a conference facility.

Chien Chung Pei, son of renowned architect I.M. Pei, is involved in the architectural planning.

No Fredericksburg residents will attend today's and tomorrow's symposium, which is being held at the Chicago Historical Society. Yates said he invited the Rev. Lawrence Davies, former Fredericksburg mayor, and Mary Washington College President William M. Anderson Jr., but they were unable to attend.

Anderson and Davies were named late last year to the museum's advisory panel, which is chaired by Joseph Harris, distinguished history professor at Howard University.

Yates said reporters are not permitted to attend the symposium because it is an "internal working session."

"This is one where we've just got to sit down and roll up our sleeves and deal with some of our planning issues," he said. "We're perfectly willing to sit down afterward and talk about the outcomes."

Media representatives were invited to last year's event at Howard University, Yates said, because it "was meant to be a public event, just to let folks know that this thing is happening."

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