Downtown Green Space JNEM

Danforth Withdraws Museum Plan? (Updated)

by Michael R. Allen


The rumor of complete withdrawal was premature, and Edde Roth has the Danforth Foundation version:

The foundation did write a letter to the Interior Department saying that the stock market drop would make it difficult to fund such a project at the $50 million it had pledged, according to the spokesman, but the Foundation “remains as interested in ever in the museum concept” and “if and when the (National Park Service) comes back with a proposal that the Foundation can support, the Foundation will support it at the level its finances will permit.”

This is an inversion of Danforth’s original call for a museum, and is exactly where the parties need to be. Danforth has sparked a public debate, and now the government entity responsible for the Memorial has responded with an official planning process. Danforth is no longer the voice in the wild, but part of an emerging coalition of stakeholders with different visions for the Memorial. At this stage, the National Park Service should lead to ensure that private visions are mediated through a public process. Danforth and others can take or leave the end result which, as with all things meted out through democratic process, will be a compromise of visions within the legal limits set forth by our government. I think that the Danforth Foundation should be commended for its proper response to the National Park Service draft management plan. This is a graceful step that will enable the draft management plan to be released and reviewed without unnecessary controversy.


Late last week, John Danforth sent a letter to Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne stating that the Danforth Foundation no longer intends to build a museum on the grounds of the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial. According to Danforth, his foundation’s financial health has weakened in the current economic downturn.