The National Park Foundation has announced a $10 million commitment from private equity billionaire and philanthropist David M. Rubenstein in support of renovations to the Jefferson Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The funds will support the creation of a new and expanded museum in the memorial, including updates to the twenty-five-year-old exhibits on the lower level and the creation of a new exhibit area on the main level, as well as facility upgrades. Dedicated in 1943, the memorial is situated on the south side of the Tidal Basin on fill dredged in the late 1800s from the Potomac River and is anchored by more than six hundred pilings and caissons sunk into bedrock. Earlier this year, the National Park Service embarked on a fifteen-month, $8.2 million project to restore the memorial's roofs, repair its stone, and clean the marble, which had grown dingy from the effects of weather, climate, and insects. In 2010, a $12.4 million repair project shored up the memorial's poorly supported sea wall, which had been slowly sinking into the river muck.
Previous gifts made by Rubenstein, co-founder and co-executive chair of the Carlyle Group, to restore public monuments and historic sites include $18.5 million in 2016 for the Lincoln Memorial, $5.37 million in 2015 for the U.S. Marine Corps Iwo Jima Memorial, $10 million in 2014 for James Madison's Montpelier plantation, $10 million in 2013 for the slave quarters at Jefferson's Monticello plantation, and $7.5 million in 2012 for the Washington Monument.
"Hopefully what we'll be able to do is make the experience of visiting the Jefferson Memorial even better than it has been," Rubenstein told the Washington Post. "While Thomas Jefferson is not without some things that we can question today, clearly he did some great things for our country."
(Photo credit: Ciara Wigfall/MD2 Studio for the National Park Foundation)