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Plans for Music Museum Move Ahead

After 11 years of planning, backers of a National Music Center and Museum pledged Thursday to open the facility in the nation’s capital five years from now.

“We will be having our grand opening in 2008,” said singer Nancy Sinatra. She has been working to build support for the project since her father, Frank Sinatra, died in 1998. He had enthusiastically backed it during the last years of his life.

“The energetic, unstoppable Federal City Council has been working to make his dream of a national museum of American music a reality,” Sinatra told a news conference called to announce a major fund-raising effort. The group has already helped raise $5 million and is now committed to raising $100 million to fund the $200 million project.

The council, composed of local civic leaders who support major projects in the city, includes former Sen. Bob Dole, R-Kan.; Richard E. Marriott, chairman of the board of Host Marriott Inc.; and Donald E. Graham, chairman of the board of The Washington Post.

Music producer Quincy Jones has agreed to serve on the museum’s board of directors and help raise funds. The musician and composer said the facility would preserve the memories of singers like Sinatra, Louis Armstrong, Ella Fitzgerald, and band leaders like Tommy Dorsey, Harry James, Duke Ellington and Count Basie.

Supporters want a 155,000-square-foot museum included in the 10-acre redevelopment of the old D.C. Convention Center site six blocks east of the White House. The museum would contain three theaters, with 3,200, 750, and 250 seats for different types of performances. It would have 50,000 square feet of exhibit space for memorabilia and artifacts, many contributed by the Smithsonian Institution and the Library of Congress.

Examples on display at the news conference included an original manuscript of John Philip Sousa’s “Stars and Stripes Forever,” George Gershwin’s personal piano score of the opera “Porgy and Bess,” and a photograph of guitarist Jimi Hendrix taken by the late Linda McCartney.

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