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Smithsonian taps museum advisers page 2
Two members of U.S. National Slavery Museum's board join Smithsonian's African-American history project


Date published: 12/9/2004

By PAMELA GOULD

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The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, as its name indicates, will tell a broad story that will include history, the arts and culture. The Fredericksburg museum will limit itself to the topic of slavery in America, Damron said.

One of the first tasks for the Smithsonian council will be determining precisely where in Washington that museum will be built. That group will also be tasked with fund raising, as well as moving forward on all aspects of museum operations, according to Smithsonian spokeswoman Linda St. Thomas.

The area of fund raising is one where museums expert John E. Fleming sees a potential conflict.

He said both boards undoubtedly expect their members to be involved in helping raise the money for their facilities. That's where he sees Swygert could be torn, and where competition will come into play.

The U.S. National Slavery Museum, to be built on 38 acres of Celebrate Virginia, has been projected to cost $100 million to $200 million. Estimates have the Smithsonian museum costing somewhere between $300 million and $500 million.

"It's a lot of money to raise for institutions that are very close together," Fleming said.

He also noted that the facilities will be competing for artifacts predating 1865--which are hard to come by.

"Because of the little amount of artifacts, there was no question in my mind there was going to be competition between the two institutions," he said.

The one bit of good news as far as the competitive aspects of the two projects is their timelines, Fleming said.

Slavery museum officials say they will open in 2007, whereas the Smithsonian museum could be a decade or more away.

The last Smithsonian museum to open--the National Museum of the American Indian--took 15 years to create.

To reach PAMELA GOULD: 540/657-9101 pgould@freelancestar.com


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