The Smithsonian said Thursday that Jeff Bezos will donate $200 million to the museum, the largest gift the institution has received since its founding in 1846.
A $70 million portion will go to renovating the National Air and Space Museum and $130 million will be used to launch a new education center. In a release, the museum said the donation from the founder of Amazon and space flight company Blue Origin will also “help enable a technological transformation of the museum’s galleries and public spaces.”
“Jeff’s early curiosity about space exploration helped inspire him to think big and act boldly, and as a result he has played a defining role in the expansion of the internet,” said Steve Case, Smithsonian Board of Regents Chair and founder of America Online. “We’re delighted that Jeff is making this commitment to help us extend the Smithsonian’s reach and impact, as we seek to inspire the next generation of scientists, astronauts, engineers, educators and entrepreneurs.”
Bezos stepped down as CEO of Amazon on July 5, a move that was announced in February. The company said at the time that its founder would transition from CEO to executive chair, saying he wanted to spend more time on his other ventures, including philanthropy. On Tuesday, Bezos plans to be part of a four-person crew on an unpiloted spacecraft built by Blue Origin that will take an 11-minute ride to the edge of space.
Although Bezos, the world’s wealthiest person, is among the world’s top philanthropists, he’s faced criticism for not giving away more of his vast and growing fortune of more than $200 billion. His ex-wife, MacKenzie Scott, whose net worth is estimated at more than $60 billion has pledged to give away the vast majority of her wealth.