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African-American museum reopens


If you long to read copies of old, hard-to-find Jet magazines, or to admire a stamp collection featuring black Americans, visit today's open house at the Howard County Center of African-American Culture in Town Center.

The open house, marking the museum's official reopening, takes place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the 1,900-square-foot museum at One Commerce Center.

Regular museum hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday.

In October, the museum moved from 10 Corporate Center, near the American Cafe, to nearby One Commerce Center, because it didn't have enough money to stay in the previous location, said Wylene Burch, the museum's founder and director.

The museum was at Corporate Center for less than a year.

"Every year we're fighting because we don't have a permanent place and money," she said.

The museum pays a nominal fee to lease its new location, said Ms. Burch, who is assisted by a core of volunteers. About 100 museum members, who pay memberships ranging from $25 to $500, help fund the museum, which also receives grants.

The museum attracts nearly 400 people annually. It opened in 1987 to highlight achievements and donations blacks have made to the country and the county. Before moving to Corporate Center, the museum was in the Howard County Historical Society in Ellicott City.

The museum contains more than 2,000 artifacts, more than 500 magazines and about 1,200 books, along with figurines, records and posters.

Near the museum's entrance, visitors can see a dress that belonged to Dora Mack Carter, the county's first black music teacher, who taught in the 1930s and 1940s.

Another exhibit includes a copy of a pre-Civil War document freeing a slave. Museum visitors also can read a newly published Bible featuring illustrations and photographs of blacks as biblical figures.

There is also a box of cornflakes featuring Vanessa Williams when she was crowned Miss America.

"We're trying to preserve the history of Howard County, mainly because there has never been a museum to preserve [African-American] history," Ms. Burch said.

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