Oprah Winfrey Donates $12 Million to Smithsonian's Black History Museum

Oprah Winfrey Donates $12 Million to Smithsonian's Black History Museum

In honor of the OWN chairman and CEO's contribution, the organization will name its theater after her

Oprah Winfrey has donated a small chunk of her estimated $2.8 billion net worth to help build The Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture.

The OWN chairman and CEO has just donated $12 million to the museum's capital fund. Combined with a previous donation of $1 million, Winfrey's $13 million is the museum's largest donation to date.

"I am so proud of African American history and its contributions to our nation as a whole," Winfrey said in a statment.

"I am deeply appreciative of those who paved the path for me and all who follow in their footsteps. 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."

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Slated to open in late-2015, the museum's theater will be dedicated to the media mogul. The Oprah Winfrey Theater, one of the largest spaces in the museum at 350 seats, will serve as a center for performers, artists, scholars, educators and other opinion leaders. The museum will be the nation's largest destination totally devoted to Black history and culture.

"We are inspired and profoundly grateful for Ms. Winfrey’s generosity at this important time," said Lonnie G. Bunch III, founding director of the museum.

"Her gifts will forever be associated with harnessing the power of art and creative expression to build bridges between cultures and enrich people’s lives. Programming at the Oprah Winfrey Theater will mirror the museum’s commitment to use African American history and culture as a lens to see what it means to be an American and to help all Americans remember."

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Congressional funding provides half of the museum's $500 million construction costs. Winfrey's $13 million gift goes toward the other $250,000, which the organization must raise itself.

Additionally, Winfrey has served on the museum's advisory council since 2004.