African-American museum to reopen at Alaskaland

Posted: Thursday, May 23, 2002

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- The African-American Community Museum will resume business at Alaskaland this summer after all.

The museum's lease had been dropped because its operator, the Fairbanks Alaska Black Chamber of Commerce, was unable to keep it open the prescribed number of hours last summer.

''It'll be a struggle again, but we'll do the best we can,'' said Bob Sawyer, chairman of the organization.

The museum opened last June in a tiny brown cabin with red trim in the Alaskaland shopping district called Gold Rush Town. Its artifacts consisted mainly of portraits of current black residents and a historic timeline of black Alaskans and their accomplishments. Some shelves were bare and the museum had more souvenirs for sale than it had historic things to see, but operators said they hoped it would grow.

Renters of the historic cabins must keep their shops open all hours between 11 a.m. and 9 p.m. The museum lacked the volunteers to maintain those hours.

Sawyer said the museum will be moved to a cabin beside a snack shop whose staff will help out when needed.

Alaskaland manager Michael Cox said he is pleased the museum found a way to maintain prescribed hours and remain at the park. He did not give the museum any breaks in allowing it to return.

''The museum gives visitors an important opportunity to come out and look at a part of Fairbanks' history,'' he told the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. ''They are under the same obligations as they were last year.''

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