The Legislature's Appropriations Committee will hold a public hearing on Legislative Bill 904 on Thursday, and the Great Plains Black History Museum hopes for a show of support.
The bill, which calls for the state to help finance a new Great Plains Black History and Science and Technology Center, is sponsored by Sen. Rick Kolowski of Omaha. The hearing starts at 1:30 p.m. in Lincoln.
The museum is organizing a caravan to travel to the hearing. It said anyone who wishes to join should meet at 11 a.m. in the Crossroads' Dodge Street parking lot near the motor coach. Car pools are to be arranged for people who need transportation.
At a press conference Tuesday morning, Jim Beatty, the museum's president and chairman of the board, urged people of all ages and all races to make the trip. The museum would be a statewide resource and would be linked to other state museums.
If the bill passes in the Legislature, Beatty said he hopes a site can be selected and construction started this year. For every $2 million the museum raises, it would get $1 million from the state, up to $8 million.
The new building would be 35,000 square feet and cost about $25 million. The museum estimates it would draw 65,000 visitors in its first year and could have a $65 million economic impact in its first five years, Beatty said.
For now, the museum, whose original building at 2213 Lake Street closed in 2004, is opening a storefront location in Crossroads Mall. It will have its official opening at 10 a.m. Saturday. The mini-museum will have exhibits that change monthly. The first will be 44 portraits of black men and women by Terry Diel.
Correction: Due to incorrect information from a source, estimates for the number of visitors to and the economic impact of the museum were attributed partly to the Omaha Convention and Visitors Bureau.