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Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Bowling Green City Donates $123,000 For African American (Black) Heritage Museum. Now Let The HOWLING Begin!

(A rendering of the planned African American Museum in Bowling Green. City commissioners approved an allocation of $123,000 for the museum.)
City approves funding
Commissioners donate $123,000 to assist with startup and renovation costs

Efforts to preserve Bowling Green’s African-American heritage got a boost Tuesday night.

The Bowling Green Board of Commissioners approved a one-time allocation of $123,000 to help cover expenses for the startup of the African American Museum, to be housed in an existing building at Third Avenue and State Street.

“First of all, it’s exhilarating,” said John Long, chairman of the museum’s steering committee. “At the same time, the hard work begins. I think everyone is excited, definitely committed and ready to roll up the sleeves and really put in the effort to make this a successful effort.”

The $123,000 donated by the city will assist in startup and renovation costs for the first year of the museum’s work. However, in year two, the museum expects to spend $141,000 on operating costs.

Long said organizers will begin to get the 1,700-square-foot building in shape to house the museum now, as well as make plans to hire a project director and establish an education committee.

“Not that (the building) is in bad shape, but it will require some remodeling because the building was designed to be something different,” Long said.

Museum organizers came to the commission in August with plans and details for the museum.

“We are glad to play a part in implementing this program,” Mayor Joe Denning said. “It’s something I think we personally need. Bowling Green and the black community has had a whole lot of history.”

Denning also commended Commissioner Brian “Slim” Nash’s efforts in working with museum organizers.

“My role in this has been minimum at best,” Nash said. “It’s simply been one of a vehicle to try to get it in front of this commission.”

Nash said later that the museum organizers were some of the most organized and detailed-oriented people he’d seen in some time.

“They are people that have always done things right, they continue to do things right,” Denning said. “I’m proud, as I know they are.”

Nash said he has received some questions as to whether it’s an appropriate time for the city to allocate funding for the museum.

“I think this is an appropriate time because I believe we’re past due on it,” Nash said. “History is infrastructure and African-American history in Bowling Green is disappearing at a rapid rate.”

According to notes distributed at Tuesday’s meeting, organizers will look to several places for information: records and artifacts, including church records, estate papers, newspapers, official documents of the city and official documents of the commonwealth.

In October, members of the education committee will work with the Fountain Square Players to take various skits about the history of African-Americans to area schools, Long said.

The museum’s opening date is unclear, but according to the organizers’ timeline, they will begin work on a capital campaign before the end of the year.



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