National Underground Railroad Freedom Center plans to merge

Thu Feb 16, 2012 10:21am EST
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By Joe Wessels

CINCINNATI (Reuters) - An American museum that tells the history of black slaves escaping from the U.S. south has announced plans to merge with another museum to ensure its survival.

The National Underground Railroad Freedom Center in Cincinnati, Ohio said it would merge administrative, programming and some personnel costs, as well as expand community partnerships and fundraising opportunities with the Cincinnati Museum Center.

The Freedom Center, which opened its doors in 2004, was facing possible closure at the end of this year if it did not fill a $1.5 million funding gap,

Details are still being hammered out, but the initial overview of the merger's financial aspects looks positive, according to Elizabeth Pierce, the Museum Center's vice president of marketing and communications.

"We are entering a phase of due diligence," she said. "We have some initial analysis that allows us to think it was the right thing to do. We are now going to validate those assumptions."

That process will take about four to six months to complete, she said.

Now that word of the likely merger is out, the two organizations can begin the process of working with national, regional and local partners to help raise money and support, Pierce said.

The Freedom Center has had trouble in recent years garnering support from some donors because of the perception it might not remain open.   Continued...