Billionaire Koch gives $35 million to dinosaur museum
By Kevin Murphy
KANSAS CITY, Kansas (Reuters) - American industrialist David Koch, a major supporter of conservative causes, said on Thursday his lifelong fascination with dinosaurs drove his $35 million donation to renovate the National Museum of Natural History's dinosaur hall.
The gift was the largest single donation in the Washington-based museum and research institution's 112-year history, the Smithsonian Institution said.
"I've had a love affair with dinosaurs since I was a boy," Koch, who turned 72 on Thursday, told Reuters in a telephone interview from New York, where he lives.
"I realized that the exhibit at the Smithsonian was very out of date. Some of it goes back 100 years, and we were in desperate need of renovation," said Koch, who is on the museum's board of directors.
The current display on dinosaurs and paleontology has gone mostly unchanged for 30 years, and the Koch donation will cover most of the planned $45 million renovation, said Randall Kremer, a spokesman for the museum.
"This would not happen if not for the gift from Mr. Koch," Kremer said. "This is just a great day for the museum and the country."
The new hall will showcase part of the museum's 46 million-piece fossil collection and feature new displays on how dinosaurs and other creatures lived.
The Smithsonian Board of Regents agreed to name the updated 25,000-square-foot exhibition space after Koch. The museum already has the David H. Koch Hall of Human Origins, which opened in 2010. Continued...