- The Washington Times - Monday, March 20, 2006

CINCINNATI (AP) — A national museum commemorating the Underground Railroad is $5.5 million in the red just 18 months after opening, and officials said they will seek public money to continue operations.

When the National Underground Railroad Freedom Center opened in August 2004 with an annual budget of more than $10 million, officials said they would rely exclusively on admissions, donations and grants.

Now the center will seek city, state and federal funds rather than asking taxpayers to approve an operating levy, said the center’s chief executive, John Pepper. The museum will need an estimated $2 million to $3 million a year in public funding to stay up and running, he said.

The $110 million Freedom Center was built with $6 million from the city, $13 million from the state and $22 million from the federal government.

First-year admissions exceeded officials’ estimate of 260,000 by 20,000. But the number has fallen sharply since August, contributing to the deficit. In September, 15 employees were laid off.

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