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Jeff Bezos Gives $10 Million to Expand His Named Center for Innovation at Seattle’s MOHAI – GeekWire

The Bezos Center for Innovation at the Museum of History & Industry in Seattle. (MOHAI photo)

Jeff Bezos will donate $10 million more to Seattle’s Museum of History & Industry so it can expand its Center for Innovation, named after Amazon’s 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 enable visitors, especially young people, to discover their own passion for innovation through the center’s exhibitions and programs.

According to a MOHAI press release on Monday, the new gift will enable the center to:

  • expand interactive storytelling;
  • improve 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 issues on topics ranging from climate change to social justice;
  • present insights from leading innovators;
  • build a definitive collection of artifacts and archives that preserve Seattle’s history as a global center of innovation.

Extensive hands-on learning opportunities, designed to serve 30,000 students and their teachers annually, are also part of future plans. And MOHAI plans to develop new interactive exhibits, build a significant collection of artifacts related to the history of innovation, and showcase first-person histories of some of the world’s foremost innovators.

Jeff Bezos, right, at the 2013 opening of the Bezos Center for Innovation at MOHAI in Seattle. (GeekWire File Photo)

“At a time of great challenges and unprecedented opportunities, innovation in all facets of the human endeavor is key to building strong, sustainable communities,” MOHAI President Leonard Garfield said in a statement. “And with the extraordinary gift of Jeff Bezos, the expanded innovation center in MOHAI becomes Seattle’s vital resource to ensure that all residents, especially youth, have full access to the region’s heritage and innovation culture.”

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.

Spanning 4,000 square feet in MOHAI’s Grand Atrium, the center offers interactive experiences such as an ‘Idea Lab’ and a ‘Patent Tree’. It also teaches people how ideas eventually grow into full-fledged businesses, with 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 at the space’s opening 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 in Lake Union Park. The museum said it plans to reinvent all of its exhibits to “include a more inclusive and comprehensive 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 spend $70 million on the renovation of the National Air and Space Museum and $130 million to launch a new educational center at the museum, the Bezos Learning Center.

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