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(NECN: Peter Howe, Boston) - It's a funny thing about Boston: A city rich with nearly 400 years of history doesn't have a museum of Boston history. But developer Frank Keefe and a high-powered team of civic leaders hope to change that. They're working to get rights from the Massachusetts Turnpike Authority to build a <a href="http://www.bostonmuseum.org" target="_blank">Boston Museum</a> on a vacant parcel between the Rose Kennedy Greenway and Haymarket outdoor fruit and vegetable market. It's officially called Parcel 9 on plans for post-Big-Dig redevelopment of Boston. "This is going to be a very successful museum,'' said Keefe, a former top aide to former Massachusetts governor Michael S. Dukakis who went on to become a private developer building projects like the Hotel Commonwealth in Kenmore Square and others. "Boston has history, more history than any other city in America. People come here for history, and we only show them a tiny slice of the history we have.'' The five-story, 100,000-square-foot museum, as designed by <a href="http://www.c7a.com" target="_blank">Cambridge Seven Architects</a> , would showcase all kinds of Boston history, from the Revolutionary War through the 20th century, the social experience of immigrants in cities across Massachusetts, the ecology of Massachusetts Bay and the Charles River Basin. "The Irish came, the Greeks came, the Italians came, the Jews came -- we ought to tell those stories as well,'' Keefe says. "This city has sparked innovation in medicine, in technology, in financial services. This city has a great sports tradition.'' All of those would be featured, Keefe said, in a museum that would have a front-row seat on the Boston Freedom Trail. Also, the museum would welcome and nurture the Haymarket vendors outside their west wall as a kind of living history, providing sheltered space and garbage collection and cleanup for the decades-old outdoor market. As a bonus the Boston Museum is proposing to to build a pedestrian suspension bridge covering over the busy southbound Central Artery off-ramps that come up to Clinton Street and the surface artery near Quincy Market. That bridge would sit above a hard-to-develop site, Parcel 12, that was originally proposed years ago as a possible home for the Boston Museum before it became clear it would be prohibitively expensive to build over active highway ramps. Turnpike officials are weighing other plans for the site, including proposals for housing and office space, and it's not clear how soon the board will vote on who gets to develop the site before the Turnpike Authority disappears Nov. 1 under Massachusetts' new sweeping transportation agency reform plan. The museum has one very important fan, Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino. "This has great possibilities,'' Menino said. "The questions are: Can we raise the money? And are the resources there for it? The idea behind it makes a lot of sense.'' Menino said he is pleased the project maintains and respects the tradition of the Haymarket vendors. It'd be a $140 million dollar project total, including $20 million as an endowment to subsidize operating expenses, a big amount to raise in a tough economy for fundraising. "There are a lot of very strong generous donors who are waiting for us to get site control to make substantial contributions to the various galleries of this exhibit,'' Keefe said. A long list of rich and influential museum backers includes Suffolk Construction CEO John Fish, Live Nation concert promoter Don Law, Boys and Girls Clubs of Boston CEO Linda Whitlock, former Massachusetts Senate president Bill Bulger, Legal Sea Foods CEO Roger Berkowitz, Massachusetts Convention Center Authority executive director James Rooney, and former Smith College president Jill Ker Conway. Keefe said business models for the museum show it will support itself if it draws about 400,000 visitors a year paying an average $10 admission price. That compares to over 1.3 million annual visitors to the New England Aquarium, and an estimated 18 million who come through the Quincy Market-Faneuil Hall complex each year. Greater Boston Convention and Visitors Bureau chief Patrick B. Moscaritolo said he is confident the Boston Museum will work and be huge for Boston. "My biggest confidence level I have is because it's Frank Keefe who's leading this charge who has a track record of getting big projects done,'' Moscaritolo said. "You can see that it creates a huge economic benefit to our visitor industry. It could be as many as 500,000-plus visitors that it would attract per year.'' That would rank it among the top 10 tourist attractions in Boston, and potentially lead many visitors to extend a two-day visit to Boston to a 2 1/2- or 3-day trip, generating additional hotel, restaurant, and sales tax revenue for the city. Moscaritolo also noted that it's important for Boston to continue to reinvent itself and offer fresh new attractions for tourists to complement the classics, and the last major new downtown tourist feature -- the Duck Boat tours -- came 14 years ago.