David Rubenstein Donates $10 M. to Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture

National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington. COURTESY FREELON ADJAYE BOND/SMITH GROUP

National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington.


The Smithsonian announced that philanthropist David Rubenstein, cofounder of the Carlyle Group private equity firm, has given $10 million to the institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture’s capital campaign. With this donation, the museum will have already secured $252 million of the $270 million required to continue funding construction and exhibitions, after Congress’s own designated contribution of $270 million last year. Additionally, Rubenstein has loaned two historical documents to the Smithsonian, both of which bear the signature of Abraham Lincoln: the 13th Amendment (1865), which made slavery illegal, and the Emancipation Proclamation (1863).

Lonnie Bunch, the founding director of the museum, said in a statement:

“It is a distinct honor to have the support of David Rubenstein as we start the countdown toward the opening of the museum this fall. This gift is another shining example of his long-standing commitment to the Smithsonian as a donor, an advisor and a fundraiser. His respect for and knowledge of history, coupled with his contribution of $10 million, makes him an extraordinary partner in our commitment to explore African American history and culture in a way never attempted before—a way that makes it clear that African American history is America’s history.”

As a result, the museum has decided to name the centerpiece of its new gallery space the David M. Rubenstein History Galleries. The first three shows held there will be titled “Slavery and Freedom,” “Defending Freedom, Defining Freedom: Era of Segregation 1876–1968” and “A Changing America: 1968 and Beyond.”

Rubenstein currently serves as an executive committee member on the Smithsonian’s Board of Regents, and acts as co-chair of its $1.5 billion national fundraising campaign. Over the years, he has given a total of $44.7 million to the organization.

Rubenstein said in a statement:

“This architecturally stunning museum occupies its rightful place of honor and prominence on the National Mall. This will be a place of learning, inspiration and healing. Designed to honor the important contributions to our country, over hundreds of years, of African Americans, it is a museum for all Americans to visit and appreciate. I am honored to be among the museum’s many supporters.”

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