- The Washington Times - Saturday, December 23, 2006

FREDERICKSBURG, Va. (AP) — A budget amendment proposed by Gov. Timothy M. Kaine includes $250,000 for the U.S. Slavery Museum.

The proposed spending must still be approved by the state House and Senate before it can be added to the budget.

The Kaine administration received a letter from museum Executive Director Vonita Foster requesting financial support but not specifying a dollar amount.

Richmond Mayor L. Douglas Wilder, a Democrat and one of the museum’s chief proponents, has started a campaign to raise $100 million toward the Fredericksburg museum’s $200 million cost.

Entertainer Bill Cosby has already committed at least $1 million.

Mr. Kaine’s proposed spending amendment is consistent with funding proposed for 37 other state museums and cultural attractions. The sums ranged from $100,000 to $500,000. In all, Mr. Kaine, a Democrat, budgeted $7.5 million for such programs.

The slavery museum and other attractions fall under the category of “non-state agencies,” which are not the state’s responsibility but receive state support.

Sen. John H. Chichester, eastern Virginia Republican and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said when he reviews the governor’s budget amendments during the upcoming legislative session, he’ll view this as “just another non-state agency.”

“Two-hundred-fifty-thousand is a little bit heavy, but it’s not unprecedented,” Mr. Chichester told the Free Lance-Star of Fredericksburg.

Earlier this year, museum officials said cash and pledges toward the project total about $50 million, half of what is needed to construct the 290,000-square-foot museum. The $100 million sought in the fund drive would be the endowment.

The museum reported $938,186 in gifts, grants and contributions during fiscal 2005, nearly 10 times the sum from the previous year, the newspaper reported.

The museum, which is being designed by architect Chien Chung Pei, will be built on 38 acres on a hill overlooking the Rappahannock River.

Plans for the museum call for a full-size replica of a slave ship, 10 permanent galleries, a 450-seat amphitheater, two libraries, a lecture hall, several classrooms and an outdoor garden featuring sculptures, commemorative walls and tobacco and cotton crops.

The museum has already collected 5,000 to 6,000 slavery-related artifacts, including furniture, documents, shackles and collars.

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