DETROIT – The General Motors Foundation will become a founding donor of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture through a $1 million grant. GM Foundation President Vivian Pickard presented the gift to the Museum Founding Director Lonnie G. Bunch III at the Washington Auto Show.
“GM and the GM Foundation have a strong legacy of support for the African American Community, and for the Smithsonian Institution’s preservation of our nation’s history,” said Pickard. “Through this grant we continue our commitment by helping to bring to life the story of African Americans who have changed our nation in so many ways.”
Currently under construction on a five-acre site adjacent to the Washington Monument, the Museum will open in 2015, displaying the richness and diversity of the African American experience and how it has shaped the country. The GM Foundation’s donation will support the design and installation of the Museum’s permanent exhibitions.
“We are honored to have the GM Foundation join the museum’s family of founding donors, supporting us as we create a better America, one museum at a time,” said Bunch. “GM’s gift will help the museum tell a rich, inclusive history of America, one that will now be preserved for generations to come.”
The GM Foundation joins other prominent donors, including the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, The Oprah Winfrey Charitable Foundation, American Express and more. With this pledge, GM and the GM Foundation’s support of the Smithsonian totals more than $11 million since 1998.
The foundation says it has given $11 million to the Smithsonian since 1998.
GM’s relationship with the Smithsonian dates to 1954 when the company donated the first mechanical heart pump to the Smithsonian’s Museum of American History Division of Science, Medicine and Society. A team of GM scientists and engineers developed the mechanical heart pump that made possible the world’s first open heart surgery. Since then, the company has contributed other notable items to the institution, including “Alice,” the world’s first computer-controlled electric robot.
The Foundation was also a founding donor of the “America on the Move” exhibition that opened in 2003 at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. The exhibit is located inside of the General Motors Hall of Transportation, named in recognition of the company’s support of the Smithsonian Institution.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.