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MBC Has Plan for Fundraiser in L.A.

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CHICAGO -- When Chicago's Museum of Broadcasting Communications plays host to Hollywood with a Nov. 10 reception at the Universal Hilton in Universal City, it will be reaching out to the industry it celebrates to raise support for and awareness of a new 70,000-square-foot home for its unique virtual archives, programs and exhibits.

The MBC's new Windy City structure, the first museum in the U.S. being built entirely to environmentally friendly specifications, will open in 2006. It is raising the final $10 million for the $27 million project through the sale of tax-free bonds.

MBC is one of only three broadcast museums in the country, and the only one to provide extensive online curricula, documentaries, archived programs and other virtual resources free of charge to the public through its Web site, www.museum.tv.

Although the Internet is a repository for all of the materials for which it can secure digital rights, MBC owns and provides access to 180 public programs, 85,000 hours of content and seminars and an encyclopedia on broadcast television, radio and advertising. The encyclopedia, which includes more than 2,000 essays from more than 500 global contributors, is being updated and also is available free online.

"Our Web site is primarily for educational purposes. It reinforces our principal mission, in which I am taking a multimedia approach to providing accurate, historical information and references about broadcast television and radio and communications," said Bruce Dumont, MBC founding president and CEO.

"We were the first such museum to computerize our collection and put it online, and we're the first museum to offer selected streaming media from the collection, and to create curriculums from a select number of those programs," said Dumont, a veteran Chicago broadcaster and long-time host of the syndicated radio show "Beyond the Beltway," who has sustained and advanced the museum for more than two decades.

"We're coming to Los Angeles because there are a lot of people out there who don't know about what we're doing. It's more of a friend-raiser than a hard fundraiser. The more people learn about what we're doing, the more people will want to participate, whether they are from Chicago or not," Dumont said.

The museum already has exhibit-specific backing from major media groups such as Walt Disney Co. and its ESPN, Viacom's TV Land and NBC News.

The Oprah Winfrey Foundation has donated $250,000 to digitize some 200 civil rights-related programs for MBC's extensive online documentaries and news programs in such specific areas as Vietnam, the performing arts, WWII, politics, military, children's programming and sports.

"You can read every word ever written about the civil rights movement. But until you have seen the barking dogs, the water cannons and the troopers in Alabama, you have sort of missed the point. This was a social movement that was successful because of television," Dumont said. "Preserving and keeping alive such experiences is what we're all about."

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Diane Mermigas writes for The Hollywood Reporter.

For more news from The Hollywood Reporter, click here.

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