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The economic impact of a major new museum

Nancy Marshall-Genzer Sep 23, 2016
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A statue of Colorado pioneer and former slave Clara Brown is on display next to a preserved slave cabin at the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

The National Museum of African American History and Culture is a somber and celebratory look at the history of African-Americans in this country.  

It’s expected to draw huge crowds. And they’ll be bringing their wallets.

There’s a pretty straightforward way to analyze a museum’s economic impact. Analysts check out what people spend getting to the museum and how much money they drop there.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture might increase the appeal of Washington for African-American tourists.

“This is an untapped market to a great extent,” said John Gerner of Leisure Business Advisors. He analyzes the economic impact of tourist attractions, like museums. “And this museum could bring in quite a few new visitors to Washington.”

People who actually plan their visits around this new museum, like Ashara Ekundayo. She flew into Washington from Oakland, California, where she owns an art gallery.

So far, she’s spent more than $1,000.

“I bought an airline ticket,” she said. “I got in a taxi from the hotel.”

And she’ll be spending more.

“And I’m realizing that I didn’t bring the right shoes so, how great is that?” she said. “I get to go find some shoes in Washington, D.C. ”

Ekundayo says she flies to Washington a lot on business. Now she’ll come here on vacation. Her kids want to go to the museum.

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