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Oprah donates £7,6m to new African American museum

by Miguel de Sousa | 18 Jun 2013

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey has donated US$12m (£7,6m) to the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is currently under construction in Washington D.C.

Half of the building's US$500m (£319m) price tag is being funded by the government, while the remaining half is being raised by the museum.

Winfrey's donation is the largest received to date and in recognition, the museum's 350-seat theatre will be named the Oprah Winfrey Theatre.

Created in 2003 by an Act of Congress, the museum was established as part of the Smithsonian Institution. The building is being built on a five-acre (two hectare) site on Constitution Avenue between the Washington Monument and the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. It is the Smithsonian's 19th museum and will be the only national museum devoted exclusively to the documentation of African American life, art, history and culture.

A collaboration of four firms make up the architectural team responsible for the design of the building. They include the Freelon Group, Adjaye Associates, Davis Brody Bond and the SmithGroup.

The primary architectural idea for the museum was derived from the classical tripartite column with its base, shaft and capital. The architectural team elaborated further: "In Yoruban art and architecture, the column or wooden post was usually crafted with a capital resembling a crown. This crown or corona form is the central idea which has driven the design of the museum. The bronze corona also reflects an African American presence that is a permanent part of the American landscape."

The building is expected to open in late 2015.

Media mogul Oprah Winfrey has donated US$12m (£7,6m) to the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture, which is currently under construction in Washington D.C. Half of the building's US$500m (£319m) price tag is being funded by the government, while the remaining half is being raised by the museum. Winfrey's donation is the largest received to date and in recognition, the museum's 350-seat theatre will be named the
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