September 9, 2010 Statement by Librarian of Congress James H. Billington on the Passing of Philanthropist John W. Kluge
John W. Kluge was a uniquely generous benefactor in the long history of the Library of Congress. In a number of important ways, he has helped us make the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution an innovative force for the new millennium.
Mr. Kluge was the founding chairman of the Library’s first private-sector national advisory group, the James Madison Council, which since its inception 20 years ago has funded important initiatives in the Library's public outreach efforts.
His early donation for the National Digital Library helped create a powerful new educational resource for the country.
His $60 million endowment for the John W. Kluge Center has enabled the Library to bring to Capitol Hill great scholars to benefit from our collections and curators, and to deepen the dialogue between learning and legislators. The endowment also supports the $1 million Kluge Prize for Lifetime Achievement in the Study of Humanity, an international award that recognizes a recipient’s deep intellectual accomplishment in the human sciences, and a body of work that demonstrates growth in maturity and range over the years.
Mr. Kluge energized the Library’s bicentennial celebration in 2000 with a special grant to establish a new leadership development program, which is preparing a diverse group of individuals with strong minority participation for leadership roles at the Library. He championed a partnership with the Ad Council that has publicized important messages such as historical education and lifelong literacy. He also made possible historic exhibitions at the Library of international materials never before shown in the United States.
More recently, Mr. Kluge contributed the first $5 million for what is now the Library of Congress Experience, an award-winning, interactive educational experience in the Library’s Thomas Jefferson Building. In 2008, Mr. Kluge cut the ribbon on the new passageway linking the Capitol Visitor Center with the Library of Congress Experience, which he called “the magic at the end of the tunnel.”
We are grateful not just for John Kluge’s remarkable philanthropy, but also for his wise counsel and warm friendship. He never attached a single condition to any of his grants, and he never sought aggrandizement for his generosity.
The Library of Congress will forever remember and be indebted to John W. Kluge for all he has done for this great institution and for our country.
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