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Slavery museum revenue, spending increased in 2007 MUSEUM EXPENSES
U.S. National Slavery Museum tax return shows organization in the black for 2007 but raised less than $1 million

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Date published: 11/22/2008

BY PAMELA GOULD

The U.S. National Slavery Museum raised 50 percent more money in 2007 than in 2006 and ended the year in the black--a reversal from 2006, according to the nonprofit's latest tax return.

However, despite raising $577, 173 and earning $4,567 in interest on its investments, museum expenses for 2007 consumed all but $54,690 of the year's income, the report shows.

Meanwhile, the city revenue commissioner says the museum owes more than $23,000 in overdue real-estate taxes and penalties.

On its tax return, the museum reported an end-of-year balance of $17.6 million, $17.5 million of which was the value of the land the museum was given to build on.

In 2002, the Silver Cos. donated 38 acres within its Celebrate Virginia tourism and retail complex in Fredericksburg for the museum after former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder chose the city as the site for the museum.

The land's value depreciated $9,540 in 2007, according to the report. However, that was offset by unspecified art in the museum's possession, which was valued at $9,000.

Wilder selected Fredericksburg over Jamestown and Richmond as the site for the museum he has envisioned since a visit to Goree Island in West Africa while governor. Wilder finishes his term as mayor of Richmond at year's end.

Dates for the museum to open have repeatedly been pushed back. The most recent estimate came in June 2007, when Executive Director Vonita W. Foster said she hoped for a "soft opening" sometime this year and an official opening in 2009 or 2010.

Foster said at the time that she needed to raise $10 million by fall of 2007 to open a portion of the museum this year. The tax return shows less than $1 million was raised for the entire year.

Construction has not begun nor have city officials received any documents to begin the process of getting approval to start work.

"This is bad times, I know. It's probably bad times to raise money, but I would like to know something," said Building and Development Services Director Stephen Smallwood.

In an odd quirk, a travel story recently appeared in more than one online publication suggesting the museum is open and would make an excellent stop for visitors to the Fredericksburg area.

CITY TAXES OVERDUE


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The U.S. National Slavery Museum reported a total of $527,050 in expenses for 2007. Here are some of the major ones listed on its tax return:

Wages/payroll taxes: $164,009

Exhibition expenses: $124,449

Fundraising events: $34,458

Advertising/marketing: $27,700

Insurance: $26,046

Printing/publications: $23,885

Program events: $20,228

Supplies: $12,678

Travel: $12,659