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Museum is making big connections
U.S. National Slavery Museum's name was linked to high-profile projects in 2004.

Date published: 4/23/2005


Fredericksburg's top tourism official says exposure the U.S. National Slavery Museum is getting from contacts with National Geographic magazine and a Hallmark Channel television special are important steps in marketing both the museum and the city.

What is "critical," however, are the connections being made with local school officials, said David Holder, the city's tourism and business development director.

"For a museum to survive and thrive, they have to have strong connections with local educators," Holder said.

In the recently submitted annual report to the city for 2004, Executive Director Vonita W. Foster updates progress in developing the infrastructure of the Celebrate Virginia South complex in which the museum is being built and on activities that promote the museum publicly.

She noted the success of the museum's first major showing at the University of Mary Washington's Ridderhof Martin Gallery last summer, which had higher attendance than any previous show on campus.

She also noted that museum officials continued working with educators in the Fredericksburg region and statewide, and also provided materials to schools and cultural centers in Ohio and California.

Over the summer, Gerald Foster, the museum's volunteer scholar-in-residence and the executive director's husband, participated in a program for teachers from across the state at James Madison University. He also wrote what is referred to as the museum's educational concept paper--"American Slavery: The Complete Story"--which appeared in the spring 2004 issue of the Cardozo Public Law, Policy and Ethics Journal.

Vonita Foster wrote an article on the museum for the spring 2004 issue of Public History, the newsletter of the National Council on Public History.

National Geographic's former research cartographer, Nathaniel Vaughn Kelso, said he communicated with Gerald Foster and Assistant to the Director James Damron when he sought information for an insert that appeared in the April 2005 edition of the magazine.

That issue featured an article on the fight to preserve Civil War battlefields and depicted scenes in the Fredericksburg region. Kelso said he contacted the museum after learning about it on the Internet and from a museum contact in Newport News.

He said he wanted information on the social and political history of the Civil War, including insights on the role of slaves.

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