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ND may help fund museum

Mary Kate Malone | Wednesday, May 3, 2006

The University is examining the possibility of helping a struggling Catholic museum in Washington, D.C, University spokesman Dennis Brown said Tuesday.

Brown emphasized that communication between officials from the John Paul II Cultural Center – which is facing a $40 million deficit – and the University is “very preliminary.”

“We’re in the analysis process of taking a look at what role we might play on a number of levels, if any,” Brown said. “Is this something that would be in our or the Center’s best interest? That’s why it’s important for us to do due diligence.”

Backed by Detroit Cardinal Adam Maida, the Cultural Center opened in March 2001 and sits on 12 acres. The museum houses art from the Vatican and a research center but, according to a May 2 article in the Detroit Free Press, has struggled to attract visitors.

Brown said the Center contacted the University earlier this year about what role it might play in the Center’s future.

The dialogue between the University and the Cultural Center was reported in the May 2 Detroit Free Press article. The news comes after a tense spring on campus marked by heated debates over academic freedom and Catholic character and a student-initiated living wage movement.

Brown would not comment on what type of involvement the University would pursue or when the University would make a decision.

“There is no timeline on it from our perspective,” Brown said.

The Cultural Center is next door to Catholic University of America and behind the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.