Four Minnesota organizations contributed more than $17 million towards the building of the National Museum of African American History & Culture (MNAAHC) which opened its doors last week.

The NMAAHC was established as a Smithsonian museum by an Act of Congress in 2003. Construction of the 400,000 square foot museum began in February 2012 and opened to the public on Sept. 24.

The Smithsonian now consists of 19 museums and galleries, the National Zoological Park, and nine research facilities.

Minnesota companies 3M Co., Target Corp. and UnitedHealth Group were among the 13 Cornerstone Donors who contributed $5 million or more to the museum (five Capstone donors contributed $10 million or more; and three Pinnacle donors donated $20 million or more). The Medtronic Foundation was among 22 organizations that contributed $2 million or more as Keystone Donors.

And 3M’s technology is helping to tell tales of the African American experience in the newly opened museum.

100 3M touchscreens throughout the museum help guide visitors through the exhibits. In the “Freedom Now: The Modern Civil Rights Movement 1945-1968” exhibit 3M touchscreens lead visitors through a question and answer application that informs visitors about the height of segregation including stories about Freedom Marches and the Montgomery Bus Boycott.

“This technology enables the Smithsonian to tell stories in new and exciting ways,” Mark Lavoie, the 3M sales rep who installed the monitors, said in a statement. “The best way to connect with Museum visitors is through the convergence of voice, data and video technology.”

photos courtesy of 3M Co.

3M has a longstanding partnership with the Smithsonian, and retired 3M senior vice president Bob MacDonald currently serves as Chair of its National Board of Directors.

Target Corp. CEO, Brian Cornell, served as an advisory board member of the NMAAHC during the last year. In a blog post on Minneapolis-based Target’s website Cornell said “this museum will be a place where visitors can come and learn, reflect, understand more about each other, and ultimately be more accepting of all people.”

Target is supporting the Target Learning Center at The Museum, a space inside the Museum where visitors can take a deeper dive into history through interactive displays.

The total cost of building the museum was approximately $540 million. Half the construction cost came from federal funds.

photo courtesy of 3M

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