Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos is providing a $200 million donation to the Smithsonian, which is the largest gift to the institution since its foundation in 1846.
A total of $70 million of the donation will go towards the renovation of the National Air and Space Museum, and $130 million will be used to launch a new education center at the museum, according to a statement by the Smithsonian.
The “world-class learning center” that will be named the Bezos Learning Center in honor of the billionaire will be located in a new building planned to be constructed on the east side of the museum’s plaza. It will offer programs and activities to inspire students to pursue innovation and explore careers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics (STEAM).
In addition, teachers will be able to better use the Smithsonian’s collections through the center.
In the largest gift to the Smithsonian since our founding, we will receive $200M to support @airandspace's renovation and a new education center. Inspiring students to explore STEM and the arts, the gift is from Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos. https://t.co/7guRbYhHrZ
— Smithsonian (@smithsonian) July 14, 2021
“Jeff’s early curiosity about space exploration helped inspire him to think big and act boldly, and as a result he has played a defining role in the expansion of the internet,” said Smithsonian Board of Regents Chair Steve Case. “We’re delighted that Jeff is making this commitment to help us extend the Smithsonian’s reach and impact, as we seek to inspire the next generation of scientists, astronauts, engineers, educators and entrepreneurs.”
Ellen Stofan, the Smithsonian’s Under Secretary for Science and Research and former director of the National Air and Space Museum, also praised Bezos’ major donation, saying “At this moment, the first human to set foot on Mars might be in elementary school.”
The institution wants to spark that passion in every student who visits its museums and Bezos has been an avid supporter of the Smithsonian’s mission to “ignite tomorrow” for many years, Stofan added.
“The Smithsonian plays a vital role in igniting the imaginations of our future builders and dreamers,” Bezos commented. “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.”
Bezos also previously donated to the National Air and Space Museum, and was a founding donor for the National Museum of African American History and Culture.