Black Museums Fight for Funding

Economy, depressing subject matter are issues; others cite little tradition in community
By Drew Nelles,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2008 9:32 AM CDT
Black Museums Fight for Funding
Lonnie Bunch, left, head of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, looks at family documents of Connie Bishop at the Harold Washington Library in Chicago, Jan. 19, 2008.    (AP Photo/Brian Kersey)

As Barack Obama’s fundraisers pull in huge sums of money for his historic candidacy, African-American museums across the country are struggling for cash and visitors, Portfolio reports. Part of the problem may be the flagging economy, but for the likes of the National Slavery Museum, the subject matter can deter donors; others say the black community has yet to develop a tradition of giving to such efforts.

"When we try to raise funds, we have found that people are very uncomfortable, corporations are uncomfortable,” the Slavery Museum’s executive director says. Other museums are floundering, too; Cincinnati's National Underground Railroad Freedom Center cut its budget by $5 million and its staff by 30% in the face of poor attendance. It’s "a very tough economic climate for all museums,” one director says. (Read more museums stories.)

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