Michigan Science Center to Reopen with Big Corporate Donations

michigan-science-centerThe Detroit Science Center, which closed over a year ago amidst financial troubles that have been endemic across the Motor City, is getting a new lease on life with the support of several car companies.

The GM Foundation, the philanthropic arm of General Motors; the Toyota Technical Center (TTC), a division of Toyota North America; and the Chrysler Foundation have all announced grants to the 150,000-square-foot museum, which will be renamed the Michigan Science Center.

The Chrysler Foundation announced a $50,000 grant last week to support the opening of the new center.

"We are excited to continue our long-standing relationship with the Michigan Science Center," said Scott Kunselman, a Senior Vice President a Chrysler and a member of the Science Center's board of directors, "and to help it provide children and their families with opportunities to explore science in a fun, dynamic learning environment."

Since its inception 59 years ago, the Chrysler Foundation has awarded over $500 million in charitable grants. Chrysler donated over $4 million to the Detroit Science Center for exhibitions and operations over the years. In 1999, Chrysler was the first sponsor to contribute $1.5 million toward the Science Center's modernization capital campaign in 1999.

The Michigan Science Center will house the Chrysler Science Stage, a large hall for exhibits focusing on space, physical and life science.

The Center, which closed in Sept. 2011 and had been as much as $6.2 million in debt earlier this year, will reopen to public on Dec. 26. A full schedule will begin on Jan. 30 when the exhibit "Bodies Human Anatomy in Motion" will debut.

"The Michigan Science Center offers the perfect vehicle for exposing and engaging children in the areas of science, technology, engineering and math at an early age," said Jeff Makarewicz, an executive at TCC, which announced its $300,000 donation last week.

"Toyota is proud to be able to support the reopening of the center and play a part in creating and inspiring the next generation of engineers and scientists," added Mr. Makarewicz, who serves on the board along with Mr. Kenselman.

Like Chrysler, Toyota has added its name to a theater at the new Michigan Science Center. The Toyota Engineering Theater presents video profiles of engineers and their education, lifestyle, and work day.

The theater, one of five at the new Science Center, "will help visitors make the connection between everyday life and groundbreaking research, new inventions and scientific discoveries," stated TTC, which was established in Michigan in 1977 and has R&D facilities in Ann Arbor, Saline, Plymouth and Livonia.

The GM Foundation made a $1 million gift, and other contributions have come in from Lear Corporation, the Penske Corporation, and the DTE Energy Foundation, all of which are also based in the Great Lakes State.

In total, the center's fundraisers have raised $5 million. Kerri Budde, senior marketing manager for the Michigan Science Center, said they are "getting close" to their fundraising goal. The center is also raising money through its website, and all donors who give before the end of 2012 will receive an invitation to a special recognition event on Jan. 21, 2013.

Image courtesy of the Michigan Science Center

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