About 70 people gathered Tuesday at the Tubman African American Museum's unfinished building on Cherry Street as museum officials kicked off a new capital campaign.
The museum announced several major gifts en route to the estimated $9.5 million it will take to complete the museum.
During the news conference, Cox Communications vice president and general manager Mike Dyer presented a check for $250,000 to museum executive director Andy Ambrose and museum board chairwoman Jo Wilbanks. Moments later, officials from Seattle-based Safeco Insurance donated $100,000 from their foundation.
"I think it's important we get (the museum) completed," Dyer said. "It's a statement about Macon and Bibb County that ... people visit and they ask what that yellow building is on Cherry Street, and it's unfinished. It says something about a lack of community support. ... It's going to be hard to go to business in Atlanta and beyond and ask for money if we're not leading the efforts ourselves."
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Ambrose and Wilbanks announced just under $1 million in donations to kick off the campaign. In addition to the money the museum received from Cox Communications and Safeco Insurance, the museum also announced it had received a $241,000 gift from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation; federal appropriations of $200,000 in support of the museum's construction; and more than $200,000 pledged and donated by the Tubman's board of directors.
The museum already had $1 million in the bank from its first capital campaign, so with the donations announced Tuesday the Tubman needs to raise another $7.5 million to complete construction. Ambrose said construction work wouldn't begin until all the money is raised.
"This is an exciting, a very exciting launch to our campaign," Ambrose said. "(The donations) are very significant and are what spark other donations."