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July 23, 2014

N.Y. African-Art Museum Scaled Back as Fundraising Falters

After repeatedly postponing completion of a new home facing Central Park, the Museum for African Art has reduced the budget and downsized ambitious design plans amid stagnant fundraising, The New York Times writes.

The museum, which has occupied several small spaces around New York City since its founding in 1984, has spent 17 years on efforts to take a place along Fifth Avenue's Museum Mile. The $135-million project budget has been slashed by nearly a third, and distinctive design features such as a ceiling of rare Ghanaian wood and an elaborate spiraling staircase have been shelved.

Lacking the large endowments and wealthy board members of institutions like the Metropolitan Museum of Art, smaller museums with grand plans and optimistic expectations of support have been hit harder by economic downturns, the Times says. The African-art museum raised some $75-million in the early stages of the project, which was initially slated to open in 2009, but donations dropped to less than $1-million in fiscal year 2013.