With Luck, Irish Americans Will Have A National Museum Someday

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March 17, 2011; Source: Los Angeles Times | It may take the luck of the Irish for the dream of one Connecticut-based nonprofit to come true. But to increase the likelihood that the Irish American Museum of Washington, D.C. gets built, backers are not seeking any federal support, just private donations. "We understand money isn’t going to be as readily available as it used to be,” said Irish American Museum spokeswoman Fiona Canning.

Instead the group is hoping donors, willing to give as little as “$5 here or there can get the ball rolling." The first step she said, is toward acquiring land “as close to the (National) mall as possible.” Next they'll need to raise enough money to build a collection to be displayed in the museum.

Not surprisingly, and perhaps very strategically, the group used Thursday's celebration of St. Patrick's Day – the 250th anniversary of the U.S. holiday – to call attention to its grand vision. The Los Angeles Times notes that while proponents of the Irish Museum share the same ambitions as African Americans who are pushing for their own institution in D.C., the latter group is seeking federal support.

There already is a National Museum of African American History and Culture, but instead of operating as standalone unit, it exhibits as a guest at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History. For it to build a permanent home on the National Mall, supporters need to raise $500 million, of which half would be federal funding and the rest from private donors. Looks like both groups would be wise to buy Irish Sweepstakes tickets.—Bruce Trachtenberg