Amazon and Blue Origin founder Jeff Bezos will contribute $200 million to the Smithsonian Institution, the biggest contribution in the institute’s history.
A portion of the contribution of $70 million will be used to renovate the National Air and Space Museum. In comparison, the remaining $130 million will be used to build a new teaching centre named after the world’s wealthiest individual.
The Bezos Learning Center, situated in a new building on the National Mall, will include events and activities to encourage kids to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, the arts, and mathematics.
“Since its inception, the Smithsonian has benefited from both federal funding and the generosity of visionary donors,” said Smithsonian Secretary Lonnie Bunch.
“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.”
Bezos and Smithsonian
According to Forbes, Bezos has a net worth of $212 billion and has a lengthy history of supporting the Smithsonian Institution.
The CEO of Blue Origin, who aims to travel to space in a matter of days, has already donated to the Air and Space Museum and gave a lecture on space history in 2016.
He was a founding contributor to the National Museum of African American History and Culture and the National Air and Space Museum.
With a house in the affluent Kalorama district and ownership of the Washington Post newspaper, he strongly links to the nation’s capital.
The Smithsonian Institute, founded in 1846, is the world’s biggest museum, educational, and research complex. It is supported via government funds, contributions, its own revenue-generating operations, and charity and is named for its creator, British physicist James Smithson.
Kenneth Behring, a late real estate magnate, contributed $80 million to the Smithsonian in 2000, making it the largest single contribution ever.
Bezos as Philanthropist
According to the Chronicle of Philanthropy, Bezos was the largest donor in 2020, contributing $10 billion to create the Bezos Earth Fund and $100 million to Feeding America.
Bezos’ ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, came in second on the list, donating $5.7 billion to “food banks, human-service groups, and racial-justice nonprofits” last year.
On July 20, Bezos, his brother Mark, female aerospace pioneer Wally Funk, and a mystery $28 million auction winner will launch into space on Blue Origin’s New Shepard rocket. After Richard Branson reaches a height of more than 50 miles in a Virgin Galactic ship on Sunday, he’ll be the second billionaire in space.