Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos donated $200 million on Wednesday to the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in order to launch a new educational center.
The Washington, D.C., museum revealed that $130 million will go toward the Bezos Learning Center and $70 million of the donation will be used for renovation projects.
“The center will connect to all Smithsonian museums, coordinating STEAM-related (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) collections and experts across the institution and promoting inquiry-based learning in visitors of all ages, with a focus on under-resourced communities,” the Smithsonian said.
“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.”
Last month, Bezos disclosed that he will be traveling on Blue Origin’s first passenger space flight on July 20. He will be accompanied by his brother Mark Bezos, 82-year-old female aviator Wally Funk and a fourth passenger. The name of the fourth passenger is not revealed yet and reportedly, this passenger paid more than $29 million for a seat.
“Since its inception, the Smithsonian has benefited from both federal funding and the generosity of visionary donors,” said Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch. “Almost 175 years ago, Mr. Smithson’s inaugural gift laid the groundwork for this innovative approach, bringing together private philanthropy and public funding. Today, as we emerge from a pivotal moment in history, Jeff’s donation builds on that original tradition and will help us reimagine and transform the Smithsonian. This historic gift will help the Smithsonian achieve its goal of reaching every classroom in America by creating a world-class learning center with access and inspiration at its heart. We are grateful to Jeff for his generosity and for his passion and commitment to education, innovation and technology. This donation will fuel our nation’s future leaders and innovators.”
“At this moment, the first human to set foot on Mars might be in elementary school,” said Ellen Stofan, the Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for Science and Research and former director of the National Air and Space Museum. “As the largest and most visited aerospace museum in the world, the museum wants to spark that passion and enrich the imagination and ingenuity of every student who visits the Smithsonian. For many years, Jeff has been an avid supporter of the Smithsonian and the museum’s mission to ‘ignite tomorrow.’ With this gift, we will be able to continue our transformation and further expand the National Air and Space Museum’s ability to reveal the possibilities of space exploration.”
For more updates, keep watching this space.