Gates Foundation Announces $10 Million Donation to Smithsonian

By Jacqueline Trescott
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, October 15, 2009; 11:28 AM

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation announced Thursday that it is giving $10 million to the National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The foundation, the largest private charitable fund in the world, is donating the money for the museum's capital campaign and to support the design and construction of the museum, which is scheduled to open on the Mall in late 2015.

The museum, which will be situated on five acres opposite the grounds of the Washington Monument, will be the 19th museum and research facility of the Smithsonian Institution. Earlier this year the Smithsonian selected Freelon Adjaye Bond/SmithGroup as the architectural firm, with David Adjaye as the lead designer.

Lonnie G. Bunch III, the founding director of the museum, has been quietly fund-raising for the project, which could cost upwards of $500 million. Congress has pledged to provide half of that cost.

"We are so pleased that the Gates Foundation has joined donors from across the country who have built a groundswell of support for this museum," said Bunch in a statement. "We recognize this as a vote of confidence and a genuine honor."

Allan Golston, the president of the U.S. branch of the Gates foundation, said, "The National Museum of African American History and Culture will be a remarkable resource that will ensure that the rich stories and valuable history of African Americans will be available for all."

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