In recognition, the museum’s 350-seat theater, intended to be a showcase for demonstrating how African-American culture has shaped the country and the world, will be named after her. The museum, the Smithsonian’s 19th, is due to open in late 2015. It will tell the story of African-American history from slavery to the post-Civil War period, the civil rights era, the Harlem Renaissance and into the 21st century.
Oprah has been involved with the museum since planning began a decade ago and joined its advisory council in 2004. She’s also a world-class philanthropist with her own grant-making foundation and the resources to make a difference. She says her gift demonstrates her pride in African-American history and culture.
“I am deeply appreciative of those who paved the path for me and all who follow in their footsteps,” she said in a statement. “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.”
Naturally, museum officials were thrilled.
“We are inspired and profoundly grateful for Ms. Winfrey’s generosity at this important time,” said founding director Lonnie Bunch III. “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.”
He said that programming in the theater will follow the museum’s mission to employ African-American history and culture as a lens to reflect a full picture of what it means to be American.
The museum is also in talks to acquire memorabilia from Oprah’s career as a media mogul and a ground-breaking TV talk-show host. Bunch says he’d like to have a microphone used on her TV show to add to the museum’s collection of over 22,000 objects.
Some of the highlights of the collection include abolitionist Harriet Tubman’s lace shawl; a Jim Crow-era segregated railroad car; slave rebellion leader Nat Turner’s Bible; the glass-topped casket that held the body of 14-year-old Emmett Till, whose 1955 murder in Mississippi for whistling at a white woman helped spark the civil rights movement; and a South Carolina slave cabin dating to the 19th century.
article by Maria Puente via usatoday.com