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Coverage of Virginia politics and the 2014 election.

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Wilder trying to reorganize, restart bankrupt slavery museum

Former governor Doug Wilder wants to continue efforts to build a national slavery museum in Fredericksburg, despite the fact that the museum organization is bankrupt.

A document filed last week with the federal bankruptcy court in Richmond says while the museum had “temporarily ceased operating,” it plans to resume operations.

To do so without money, the filing says the museum “will be operated solely by volunteer staff.”

The museum’s bankruptcy attorney has also agreed to work pro bono, according to the filing.

Wilder, the museum’s chairman, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy for the museum in September.  Documents show the museum has about $7 million in debts and no cash, its only real asset the land at Celebrate Virginia. That land was donated to the museum and assessed at about $7.6 million, but the city of Fredericksburg is preparing to auction it off to pay back taxes of about $300,000 that the museum hasn’t paid.

No actual museum has ever been built on the land in Fredericksburg. The museum’s ability to solicit charitable donations expired, and Wilder earlier this year said the recession had made fundraising difficult.

Wilder had a meeting with museum creditors last Friday in Richmond. According to WTVR in Richmond (CBS 6), Wilder asked for more time to reorganize the museum’s operations, and said he now envisions a scaled-back project, using artifacts already collected.  That story is here: