David Rubenstein Gifts $5.4 Million for Renwick Gallery Renovation

Renwick Gallery. Courtesy Smithsonian American Art Museum.

Financier and philanthropist David Rubenstein is gifting $5.4 million to the Smithsonian American Art Museum, completing the private funding portion of the $30 million renovation project of the historic Renwick Gallery. In a 50-50 funding partnership, the Smithsonian raised half the funds, while Congress provided the other half.

Just steps from the White House, the Renwick Gallery, designed by architect James Renwick Jr. and completed in 1874, is a national historic landmark. And it’s getting revamped by Los Angeles-based firm Applied Minds, who will equip the entire building with an LED system and re-imagine the Grand Salon with high definition projectors and audio speakers.

Co-founder of the Carlyle Group, a private equity investment firm, Rubenstein’s other recent gifts include those to the National Archives, the Washington Monument, and the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. And he’s been making interesting choices at auction as well. In 2007, Rubenstein purchased the last privately held copy of the Magna Carta at Sotheby’s for $21.3 million. Rubenstein is among the coterie of billionaires (including Michael Bloomberg, Mark Zuckerberg, and Bill and Melinda Gates) who, as part of The Giving Pledge, have committed to donating the majority of their wealth to charities and philanthropic causes. (According to Forbes, Rubenstein’s net worth is around $3 billion.)

The renovation of the Renwick Gallery, begun in early 2014, is scheduled to be completed in 18 months. Here’s to giving!


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