Oprah Winfrey has made Smithsonian Museum history. She announced she will donate $12 million to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture. When you combine this with the $1 million she gave in 2007, it is the museum’s largest donation, reports The Washington Post. For her efforts, Winfrey’s name will go on a 350-seat theater. Winfrey, has been a member of the museum’s advisory council since 2004.
“I am so proud of African American history and its contributions to our nation as a whole,” Winfrey said in a statement. “I am deeply appreciative of those who paved the path for me and all who follow in their footsteps. By investing in this museum, I want to help ensure that we both honor and preserve our culture and history, so that the stories of who we are will live on for generations to come.”
According to the museum’s founding director, Lonnie G. Bunch, Winfrey has been with the museum as an adviser and supporter for almost a decade. “In essence, she’s put her imprimatur on it. Part of getting a museum built is tied to visibility helping all people see how important it is,” he told The Washington Post.
In February 2012, ground was broken on the five-acre site, adjacent to the Washington Monument. The museum will cost $500 million in design, construction and exhibition costs. Congressional funding will cover half of the costs. The museum is is the process of raising the remaining $250 million.
In addition to Winfrey’s donation, the museum has already received a $10 million donation from both the Gates Foundation and the Lilly Endowment. And Bunch told the newspaper, “We have raised over $335 million in federal and private” funds. Of that number, “over $140 million has been raised from individuals, corporations and nongovernmental sources.”
The Museum of African American History and Culture is scheduled to open in 2015.