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Smithsonian Art Museum Gets $8 Million for Education Expansion

The Smithsonian American Art Museum has received a private gift of $8 million to expand its national education program, including the creation of a new education center, the institution announced today.

The 2,300-square-foot facility, to be housed in the museum's main building, will feature discussions on the exhibits, a video-conferencing system, and professional workshops for educators, among other offerings. The center is expected to open in the spring of 2012.

The Smithsonian did not immediately disclose who provided the gift, according to an Associated Press story.

"The museum presents its extraordinary collection of American art as a basis for learning at all levels, using original artworks to teach about the American experience," said Elizabeth Broun, the director of the art museum, in the press release.

The donation will also support the museum's plans to create new U.S. history and civics resources for students and teachers based on the best artworks in the collection, it says.

The museum reaches a lot of students already. In the 2009-10 academic year, more than 16,000 students engaged with the museum's collection through its educational programs. Besides programs for students, the museum also offers the Clarice Smith National Teacher Institutes, in which teams of educators learn to integrate artwork across the curricula.

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