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Wilder, officials in town to plan slavery museum
Wilder and National Slavery Museum staff were in Fredericksburg to set up shop yesterday.

 Former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder looks over the National Slavery Museum building site that's part of Celebrate Virginia. The land is within sight
of Interstate 95. Silver Cos. project manager Chris Hornung is at left.

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Date published: 10/5/2002

Former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder and two new senior staff members of his National Slavery Museum spent a busy day in Fredericksburg yesterday.

They directed the setup of the museum's offices, interviewed receptionist candidates and visited the future site of the museum in the Celebrate Virginia tourism development.

Wilder said he is planning a large mid-November event in Fredericksburg to "bring the public totally up to date" on plans for the project.

Wilder first conceived of building a slavery museum during a 1993 trip to Africa, and his idea began to gain momentum last year. The Silver Cos., Celebrate Virginia's developer, gave the museum 38 acres near Interstate 95 and the Rappahannock River earlier this year, and the City Council voted to lend $1 million to the project.

Earl Yates, who was recently named executive director of the museum, and Edward Robinson, the museum's senior development adviser, accompanied Wilder to Fredericksburg yesterday.

Yates and Robinson will work out of an office in Uptown Central Park's executive building. They saw the museum site for the first time yesterday on a tour of Celebrate Virginia led by Silver Cos. project manager Chris Hornung.

Yates, a Washington resident who formerly served as senior adviser to the president of the African Development Foundation, has no prior museum-planning experience. He said he wants to involve Fredericksburg residents in the project.

"One of the things I'm very interested in is making sure the museum is well-based in Fredericksburg," Yates said. "It would seem to me that the people of Fredericksburg and the surrounding community would need to be fully involved in, supportive of, engaged in and benefit from the museum's being there."

Wilder said museum staff will work closely in the planning stages with local organizations such as George Washington's Fredericksburg Foundation, the Fredericksburg Regional Chamber of Commerce and the National Park Service.

He is looking to expand the three-member board guiding the project and said he is considering appointing a Fredericksburg resident. The board now is composed of Wilder, Hampton University President William Harvey and Howard University President H. Patrick Swygert.

Wilder, the board's chairman, previously said he hoped to have some part of the museum open in 2003. He backed off from that deadline yesterday.

"We'll be moving dirt in 2003.We obviously won't have anything open in 2003," he said.

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