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Governor proposes $100,000 in state funds for slavery museum

Date published: 12/18/2007


The U.S. National Slavery Museum is slated to receive $100,000 in state funds in the second year of Gov. Tim Kaine's two-year budget proposal, a spokesman for the governor said yesterday.

Because of tight revenue projections, no non-state agencies are getting funds in the first year of the spending proposal Kaine announced yesterday.

In its latest newsletter, the museum reported receiving $118,750 in the two-year state budget approved in 2006.

Matt Langan, spokesman for the museum, has not responded to The Free Lance-Star's requests for information since last Wednesday. That day, the museum released its fall 2007/winter 2008 newsletter, which makes several pleas for financial help from the public.

In July, Executive Director Vonita Foster said the museum needed to raise $10 million by summer's end in order to build the first phase of the facility by the end of 2008. She said she hoped then to open the entire museum in 2009 or 2010.

The entire museum and exhibits are estimated to cost $150 million.

The earliest the $100,00 in state funds could be awarded is July 1, 2009.

Phase one of the museum is a 2,500-square-foot visitors center, according to the newsletter. Phase two would be a 160,000-square-foot exhibit building. Phase three would be a 155,800-square-foot education building and atrium.

The museum's most recent tax return showed a nearly 60 percent drop in donations between 2005 and 2006. In 2005, the museum reported receiving $938,186; last year's donations totaled $383,582.

The 2006 tax return also shows assets of $17.7 million, approximately $17.4 million of which is the value of the land on which the museum is to be built.

The slavery museum is to be built on 38 acres in Fredericksburg within the Celebrate Virginia tourism and retail complex. The land was donated by The Silver Cos., developer of Celebrate Virginia.

The newsletter states that the museum officials have a building permit and all approvals needed to begin construction.

For more information on the U.S. National Slavery museum, usnsm.org Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972
Email: pgould@freelancestar.com