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Nearly $86,000 requested annually for next few years from city, county for Doleman museum

February 19, 2013

WASHINGTON COUNTY — Officials with the Doleman Black Heritage Museum are requesting nearly $86,000 annually from City of Hagerstown and Washington County officials over the next few years to help the organization open a gallery in downtown Hagerstown.

Wendi Perry, curator for the museum, said Tuesday that the request calls for two-thirds of the estimated $128,000 yearly operational expense, or $42,933.33 each, from the city and county for the gallery’s first three to five years of operation.

The museum would make up the final one-third of the costs, Perry told city council members and county commissioners during a joint meeting at City Hall.

Perry said the initial goal will be to open a temporary gallery at 14 W. Washington St., the former location of the Washington County Arts Council that has since moved to 34-36 S. Potomac St., for a minimum of 25 hours per week.

After a few years of operation, Doleman museum officials would be eligible to apply for state or federal grant funding for future support, she said.

The first year of funding would cover rent, staffing, equipment, furniture, utility services and supplies necessary to start operations, according to a letter submitted to city and county officials. The second and third years of funding would include fixed costs of additional fabrication and production of new storylines and exhibits, it states.

Perry said the museum’s collection currently contains about 4,500 artifacts, many of which are housed in the basement of the longtime Doleman family home, which is not a “stable environment” like a dedicated gallery could provide.

“The thing of it is, is that we can’t properly house things in the home anymore,” she said.

The long-term goal of the organization, Perry said, would be to eventually pursue a location on Jonathan Street, and build the organization within Hagerstown’s predominantly black communities.

No formal action was taken on the request by city or county officials.

City Councilman Martin E. Brubaker suggested adding the request to the city’s “wish list” of items to consider in its upcoming budget discussions. No county commissioners took a position on the request Tuesday.

— C.J. Lovelace

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