On Monday, the Atlanta City Council voted to buy and complete a collection of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.’s papers by using city bonds. Pulling funds from a $40 million tax allocation bond directed to the Center for Civil and Human Rights (CCHR), it will pay off the remaining $11.5 million that is owed for the papers. These papers were originally purchased from King’s family three years ago for $32 million.
These documents from King will serve as one of the main attractions for the museum which is presumed to open its doors sometime in 2012. Financial projections have shown $125 million in relation to the actual cost in the entire project. Up to now, $50 million has been paid for.
Doug Shipman, executive director of the center, has stated that he wants to begin construction sometime in 2010 when funds have accumulated to $85 million thanks to commitments. The center is expected to be built in Downtown Atlanta, near the Georgia Aquarium and the new World of Coca-Cola.
Along with the City Council, the CCHR has received support and approval from the Atlanta Development Authority (ADA) who were responsible for approving the funds back in August. Cheryl Strickland, managing director of Tax Allocation District at ADA stated that there support is an economic development driver and can only do something positive for the city of Atlanta.
King’s collection is compiled of 10,000 pieces of his manuscripts, writings and books. It currently resides at the Robert W. Woodruff Library located at the Atlanta University Center. Morehouse College, Clark Atlanta University and Spelman College make up the AUC and have access to these documents. When the final payment is made, the library will continue to hold the papers, but the ownership of King’s work will be given to Morehouse College.
The center must consider many variables before building begins. A recent study made by the National Endowment for the Arts showed that 30% of adults went to a museum in 2008 which is drop from 2002 when 40% of people surveyed said they went.
Another variable, of course, is the looming recession taking businesses as victims. Stretching from New York to Washington, various museums have been forced to permanently close their doors due to the economic crisis over the past year. The Georgia Music Hall of Fame, which is located in Macon, is shortly on its way to shutting down if $225,000 cannot be raised by Oct. 27.