The gift is the largest in history, only second to the founding gift granted to the Institution’s namesake, James Smithson.
The Smithsonian has announced it will be receiving a major gift from Amazon founder and Chairman, Jeff Bezos. The $200 million gift will be used to remodel the National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., and add an education center to the museum. The funds will also be used to technologically transform the entire museum, adding interactive exhibits and modernizing the galleries. Bezos is scheduled to take his Blue Origin rocket into space on July 20.
The gift to the Smithsonian is one of several donations Bezos has given in the past several years. Bezo’s ex-wife Mackenzie Scott, has given away almost $9 billion to charities big and small since 2019. It is Bezos’ love of space that inspired him to gift funds for the National Air and Space Museum.
“The Smithsonian plays a vital role in igniting the imaginations of our future builders and dreamers,” Bezos said. “Every child is born with great potential, and it’s inspiration that unlocks that potential. My love affair with science, invention and space did that for me, and I hope this gift does that for others.”
A large portion of the funds, $130 million, will go towards the development and construction of a new education center named the “Bezos Learning Center.” The learning center will expose children to science and technology and encourage them to seek out jobs in STEAM fields (science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics). The center will also provide programming for underserved communities through partnerships with educators in D.C. and around the country.
The remaining $70 million will go to support ongoing renovations of the National Air and Space Museum that began in 2018. The National Air and Space Museum at the National Mall will reopen to the public on Friday, July 30.
When was the last time you visited the National Air and Space Museum? Share your thoughts on this new learning center in the comments.