Gates Foundation Gives $10M to Black History Museum

Kennedy Center gets $5 million gift from arts patron

Thursday, Oct 15, 2009  |  Updated 3:15 PM EDT
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Gates Foundation Gives $10M to Black History Museum

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WASHINGTON -- The Smithsonian and the John F. Kennedy Center announced multimillion-dollar gifts Thursday.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is giving $10 million to the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture planned for the National Mall in Washington.

The grant announced Thursday will support the capital campaign for design and construction of the new museum.

The museum will make the stories and history of African Americans available to everyone, Foundation President Allan Golston said.

Groundbreaking is expected in 2012, and the opening is slated for 2015. Construction of the museum is expected to cost about $500 million, with half the funds to be provided by Congress.

Museum director Lonnie Bunch has been quietly working to raise funds. The Gates Foundation grant is a vote of confidence for the project, Bunch said.

The Kennedy Center is getting $5 million from philanthropist Adrienne Arsht to support musical theater programming. The gift will create the Adrienne Arsht Musical Theater Fund to produce musical theater over the next 10 years.

Kennedy Center President Michael Kaiser said Arsht -- chairman emerita of Miami-based TotalBank -- has been a donor for more than 30 years. She has supported efforts to send Kennedy Center productions to Broadway and is currently underwriting the center's Arts in Crisis program to help smaller arts groups survive the recession.

Arsht also has been named treasurer of the Kennedy Center's board.

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