Home Arts & Entertainment Originally published June 15, 2013

Oprah Winfrey Donates $12 Million to The Smithsonian

by Blair Adams
AFRO Staff Writer

  •   Click on the photo to view additional Photos.
    In this May 30, 2013 file photo Oprah Winfrey reacts after delivering the commencement address at Harvard University in Cambridge, Mass. Winfrey is giving $12 million to a museum being built on the National Mall that will document African-American life. The National Museum of African American History and Culture said the museum’s 350-seat theater will be named after Winfrey. When it’s finished in 2015, the museum will house artifacts including Harriet Tubman’s shawl, Emmett Till’s casket and a Jim Crow-era segregated railroad car.Photo/Elise Amendola, File (AP File Photo)

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The Smithsonian’s upcoming National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington D.C. recently received an astonishing gift from a prominent philanthropist.

Oprah Winfrey bestowed a gift of $12 million on June 11 to support the development and construction of the new museum. Winfrey, who has been active on the museum’s advisory board since 2004, donated $1 million in 2007.

“I am deeply appreciative of those who paved the path for me and all who follow in their footsteps.” Winfrey said in a statement. “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.”

“We are overjoyed by what Oprah has done,” Senior Program Director John W. Franklin said in a statement, “This shows her commitment and this by far, has been the most significant gift to date.”

In honor of Winfrey’s generous donation, the museum will name their new theater “Oprah Winfrey Theater.” It will seat 350 and is said to be one of the largest spaces in the museum.

Construction has already begun on the $500 million project. Half of the money for the new museum comes from Congressional allocations and the remaining amount comes from corporate foundations and notable donations.

In addition to the Oprah Winfrey donation, The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture received gifts from The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and The Lilly Endowment.

The new museum is scheduled to open in late 2015. It will sit on five acres of land and will be visible from the White House.