The Chattanooga History Center is now just a hop, skip and a jump away from meeting its fundraising goal of $10.5 million.
Members of the capital campaign, the group pushing the soon-to-open Scenic City landmark forward, announced on Monday that the Lyndhurst Foundation was making more than a simple contribution to the cause: It is gifting the campaign a $250,000 challenge grant.
The nonprofit will match all individual and corporate donations dollar-for-dollar throughout 2013.
“With this challenge grant from the Lyndhurst Foundation, we are one step closer to the completion of Chattanooga’s next big idea—the Chattanooga History Center,” Cannon and Rick Montague, board members of the Chattanooga History Center and co-chairs of its capital campaign, said in a prepared statement.
The campaign has thus far reached the $8.5 million mark of its $10.5 million goal. Construction on the Chattanooga History Center, located next to the Tennessee Aquarium in the former site of the Chattanooga Visitors Center, is well underway, with a projected opening scheduled for the fall of this year.
The Lyndhurst Foundation is a local philanthropic organization that can trace its roots back to 1938 and Thomas Cartter Lupton of the Coca-Cola bottling business. It focuses primarily on cultural, educational, natural and urban projects in Chattanooga and the surrounding region.
“We just thought that the Chattanooga History Center would provide a fresh approach to connect visitors to Chattanooga’s past, present and future through the exploration of its lands, rivers and people,” said Karen Rudolph, program officer of arts and culture at the Lyndhurst Foundation.
One of the unique hallmarks of the newest addition to Chattanooga’s museum row is the involvement of Ralph Appelbaum Associates, the innovative New York City firm responsible for projects such as American Museum of Natural History and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The famed company is working with Daryl Black, executive director of the Chattanooga History Center, to implement a design that is both rooted in the more traditional duties of a museum to present the concrete facts and the political, economic, cultural, religious and social factors that interacted to result in a concrete event and invested in the way in which an event is remembered by the community.
The Chattanooga History Center will demonstrate through a series of display and listening galleries how history can serve as an interactive vehicle by which society can understand itself and how to create a path forward and a chronicle of how Chattanooga has reinvented itself over and over.
“Museums in general are not what they used to be; they are not static displays, we don’t just [put] rifles and headdresses up on walls and read text panels,” Ralph Appelbaum said in November at an open house for the Chattanooga History Center. “We invited the local community to become a participant in their history. In a sense, this museum is an engine for this city to continue with its transformation.”
The capital campaign will seek the remainder of the funds from the Chattanooga Club’s March membership drive.