Oprah Winfrey Gives $12 Million to the Smithsonian

The donation to the National Museum of African American History and Culture is the largest the new museum has received.

By: Sophie Gilbert

Photograph of Oprah Winfrey by Joe Seer/Shutterstock.

The National Museum of African American History and Culture announced today that media mogul, actress, and philanthropist Oprah Winfrey has pledged to donate $12 million to the museum, in addition to the $1 million donation she made in 2007.

The museum, scheduled to open in 2015, is the 19th Smithsonian institution and the last to open on the Mall. It will pay tribute to the rich and complex history of African American culture in the US. Winfrey is on the museum’s advisory council, along with other luminaries and artists such as Quincy Jones, former First Lady Laura Bush, and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

The donation is the largest pledge the museum has received from a single person, and will help fund the museum’s theater, which will be named the Oprah Winfrey Theater and will host film screenings, theater works, and other performances.

“I am so proud of African-American history and its contributions to our nation as a whole,” Winfrey said in a statement. “I am deeply appreciative of all 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.” Winfrey has donated an estimated $400 million to charitable causes during her lifetime.

Winfrey stars in the upcoming Washington-set movie The Butler as the wife of Cecil Gaines, a White House butler who served eight different presidents. It’s her first appearance in a motion picture in 15 years, since her lead role in the film adaptation of Toni Morrison’s Beloved. (See the trailer for The Butler in our earlier post.)