- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 14, 2007

RICHMOND (AP) — The Museum of the Confederacy needs a new home for its collection but will not move it to the new American Civil War Center.

The museum announced in October that its Civil War collection must be moved because of the expansion of Virginia Commonwealth University’s downtown medical campus.

Museum officials plan to collaborate often with the Civil War center, but putting their entire collection there would make the center’s collection “unbalanced,” said museum President Waite Rawls.

The center, which opened in October at the former Tredegar Iron Works site, offers perspectives of the Civil War from the Union, Confederate and black participants. The Confederate museum concentrates on Southern efforts and achievements.

Alex Wise, president of the center, said his fledgling facility has all it can handle.

“We are so focused on trying to become operational and be successful, we are not looking to take on anything new right now,” he said.

The 10,000-square-foot center displays about 25 artifacts on loan from the museum.

“Theirs is an important collection, and it’s an important part of Richmond,” Mr. Wise said. “Everyone is empathetic and wants to see a good solution.”

The Museum of the Confederacy is home to the world’s most comprehensive collections of artifacts, manuscripts and photographs from the Confederacy, including 1,500 decorative objects, 550 flags, 300 edged weapons, 177 firearms, 3,000 military accouterments, 25 sculptures and 1,000 military buttons.

Finding a new place to house them will be difficult.

Mr. Rawls hopes the museum will be in its new home by 2011, the beginning of the sesquicentennial of the Civil War. If officials cannot find a new site in Richmond, they will consider moving the museum outside the area.

The move is necessary, Mr. Rawls said, because visitation has been plummeting as the continued development of VCU has nearly swallowed up the museum’s small campus. Since the early 1990s, annual visitation has decreased from 92,000 to about 51,500.

In addition, the museum has a roughly $350,000 deficit. The board is leading an emergency fund drive to balance the budget by June, the end of the fiscal year.

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