- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 16, 2001

"We are here today to right a wrong that has persisted for generations a city without a museum," said the District's first elected mayor, Walter Washington, co-chairman of the City Museum Leadership Committee. "I was driving by Culpeper [Va.]. They have a museum, when the nation's capital has none. We fix that today."
Set to open in the spring of 2003, the City Museum will be overseen by the Historical Society of Washington, D.C. The museum will be housed in the Carnegie Library at 801 K St. NW.
The $24 million project will showcase D.C. neighborhoods, such as Adams Morgan and Anacostia, and chronicle the city through more than 200 years of turbulent history from the city's design by Pierre L'Enfant to slave trading, protest and peace marches, and its lack of voting representation in Congress.
The groundbreaking was originally scheduled for Sept. 11, but was canceled because of the terrorist attacks. Those who died that day were remembered in the groundbreaking ceremony.
Some also reflected on how things had changed for residents in this majority-black city. It was also a time to reflect on the history of the building by some who remember it as children.
Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District's nonvoting representative in Congress, recalled visiting the Carnegie Library decades ago.
"When we were told to use the K Street entrance, I said, 'That isn't the entrance we used to use.' I was shaken to use the front door."
The museum, which is next to the city's new convention center also to open in 2003 will use interactive media and exhibits and feature an education center, archaeology exhibits, a reference library and reading room.
The historical society predicts that 300,000 visitors to the museum annually will spend more than $5.3 million in the District.
"This is a moment our city can be proud of," said Eric Price, deputy mayor for economic development. "It is showing the nation the revitalization of downtown continues."
The idea for a city museum began in 1964 when resident Mildred A. Thomas suggested to the Metropolitan Washington Board of Trade that it work to turn the 1903 Carnegie Library into a museum of Washington history. She was ignored.
A decade later, the Martin Luther Jr. Memorial Library opened a few blocks away and the Carnegie Library was turned over to the University of the District of Columbia as classroom space.
Then in 1998, Congress ordered the Carnegie Library be used as a site for a new city museum and provided $2 million in matching funds to the historical society to start the project. The District then gave the society a 99-year lease at $1 annually for a museum that could become, as D.C. Council chairman Linda Cropp said, "a light shining through, enlightening everyone of us, as a university for the people."

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