Jeff Bezos is giving $10 million more to Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry so that the institution can expand its Center for Innovation, named for the Amazon founder.
The Bezos Center for Innovation opened in 2013 with a $10 million donation from Bezos. At the time it was the largest contribution to the museum in its 59-year history. The aim was to empower visitors, especially young people, to discover their own passion for innovation though the center’s exhibits and programs.
According to a MOHAI news release Monday, the new gift will allow the center to:
- expand interactive storytelling;
- enhance educational programs including an Innovation Classroom where young people test solutions to the challenges they face;
- create a dynamic “innovation hub” where the community comes together to tackle major problems on topics ranging from climate change to social justice;
- present insights from leading-edge innovators;
- build a definitive collection of artifacts and archives that preserve Seattle’s history as a global center of innovation.
Expanded hands-on learning opportunities, designed to serve 30,000 students and their teachers each year, are also part of future plans. And MOHAI intends to develop new interactive exhibits, build a significant collection of artifacts associated with the history of innovation, and present first-person histories from some of the world’s most important innovators.
“At a time of profound challenges and unprecedented opportunities, innovation in all facets of human endeavor is key to building strong, sustainable communities,” MOHAI Executive Director Leonard Garfield said in a statement. “And with Jeff Bezos’ extraordinary gift, the expanded innovation center at MOHAI will become Seattle’s essential resource for ensuring that all residents, particularly young people, have full access to the region’s heritage and culture of innovation.”
The Bezos Center has welcomed more than 1 million visitors in its nine years, and in 2014 it received an American Alliance of Museums award for interactive and digital media experiences.
The center, spanning 4,000 square feet in MOHAI’s Grand Atrium, features interactive experiences such as an “Idea Lab” and a “Patent Tree.” It also educates people on how ideas eventually turn into full-blown businesses, using companies like Amazon, REI and Starbucks as examples.
“If you want to be an innovator, this is a fantastic place to be,” Bezos said of Seattle during the opening of the space in October 2013.
The expansion will be implemented over the next three years and is part of a larger initiative coinciding with MOHAI’s 10th anniversary at Lake Union Park. The museum said it plans to reimagine all of its exhibits to “incorporate a more inclusive and expansive history of the region.”
In July 2021, Bezos made a $200 million donation to the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C. — the largest gift since its founding in 1846. The Smithsonian said it planned to use $70 million toward the renovation of the National Air and Space Museum and $130 million to launch a new education center at the museum called the Bezos Learning Center.