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Pros speak on slave museum page 2
African-American museum professionals weigh in on ingredients for a good start-up

Date published: 8/30/2004



While Foster didn't say she's getting input from a museum consultant, she did say she's been seeking out people to show her the way.

"I think all the input you can get from a variety of resources would be helpful, and I think we've done that," she said. "I think that's true with any business--anything."

Foster also said she has joined the Virginia Association of Museums and the American Association of Museums, and is working on becoming a member of AAAM.

Interest in Fredericksburg

The 37-year-old AAAM represents 246 museums across the country. More than 160 people attended the Raleigh conference, which offered seminars covering topics such as attracting visitors, managing materials and creating a museum from concept to opening.

Those attending the conference were eager for information about the U.S. National Slavery Museum and eager to offer assistance.

But with a dearth of information publicly available, impressions of the museum inspired by former Virginia Gov. L. Douglas Wilder varied widely.

Some people thought the museum was awaiting federal approval; others had the impression it would address enslaved persons of various cultures. Still others wondered why it was being built in Fredericksburg.

And some--including people from the Washington area--hadn't yet heard of the museum planned for 38 acres on the shores of the Rappahannock River.

Even people who took part in Wilder's initial brainstorming session at Howard University in March 2002 and a second one in Chicago in May 2003 said they had no additional information and were eager for an update.

Lonnie G. Bunch, president of the Chicago Historical Society and host of the second brainstorming session for the Fredericksburg museum, said people in the museum world are enthused about four projects concurrently under way. They are the Smithsonian Institution's National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, the International African American Museum in Charleston, S.C., and the U.S. National Slavery Museum in Fredericksburg.

"There is great interest and great support, but there is probably less real knowledge about what's going on [in Fredericksburg]," Bunch said. "I think they probably know more about the Smithsonian and the Underground Railroad, and it peters quickly from there."

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