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Oprah Winfrey, chairman and CEO of the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), is giving the National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC) $12 million for its capital campaign.
The gift, combined with a previous donation of $1 million from Winfrey, is the largest donation to the museum to date.
A 350-seat theater within the museum, scheduled to open in late 2015, will be named for the media pioneer.
Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director of NMAAHC, said the gift is a significant step in the museum's drive to raise funds and complete the design and construction of the building.
"We are inspired and profoundly grateful for Ms. Winfrey's generosity at this important time," said Bunch. "Her gifts will forever be associated with harnessing the power of art and creative expression to build bridges between cultures and enrich people's lives. Programming at the Oprah Winfrey Theater will mirror the museum's commitment to use African American history and culture as a lens to see what it means to be an American and to help all Americans remember."
Winfrey, an active philanthropist as well as leader in media and education efforts, has been a supporter of the museum since its official planning phases began a decade ago. She is a member of the museum's 27-member advisory council.
"I am so proud of African American history and its contributions to our nation as a whole," said Winfrey. "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."
The museum, which will be the 19th museum of the Smithsonian Institution, will be the country's largest cultural facility dedicated to the story of African Americans and will provide an essential pathway to the American story. The Winfrey Theater will give visitors a key space to hear performers, scholars, authors, filmmakers and opinion leaders articulate the impact of African American contributions to the United States and the world.
The museum, which is expected to cost $500 million, half provided by the U.S. Congress and the remainder raised by the museum, is currently under construction on a five acre site on the landmark National Mall. It is adjacent to the Washington Monument grounds.
Construction continues on the NMAAHC site.
Future site of NMAAHC.