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Union Carbide Foundation announces $100,000 gift to West Virginia State Museum project

Officials from the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and Union Carbide today announced a $100,000 gift from the Union Carbide Foundation to the Millennium Fund for the renovation of the West Virginia State Museum at the Cultural Center. The announcement was made this morning, May 3, 2000, at the Museum.

The 24-year-old West Virginia State Museum, located in the lower level of the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex, will undergo a complete facelift over the next two years. The history of the state will be told in the new 23,000-square-foot museum through interactive, participatory displays that will appeal to visitors of all ages. Currently in the design phase, the project will be completed at a cost of $6 million, $4 million of which has been pledged by the West Virginia State Legislature. The West Virginia State Museum Board established the Millennium Fund last year to raise the remaining $2 million necessary for the completion of the project from the private sector. The Union Carbide gift will help sponsor the chemical industry portion of the Museum’s “West Virginia Works” exhibition gallery, which will highlight West Virginia’s leading role in the industrial development of the nation.

John Macdonald
John Macdonald, president of the Union Carbide Foundation

“The Union Carbide Foundation is pleased to make this grant that will sponsor an exhibit honoring the important role that Union Carbide played in the establishment and growth of the chemical industry here in the Kanawha Valley and West Virginia,” said John Macdonald, president of the Union Carbide Foundation. “The history of Union Carbide Corporation and the chemical industry in West Virginia are inseparable.

“In addition to serving as a tribute to our past, this grant looks to the future. Certainly, the West Virginia State Museum project will better enable citizens to understand and appreciate the history of this state and the significance of the chemical industry to the state. We are particularly pleased to support the creation of a lasting legacy to Union Carbide and the chemical industry.”

Commissioner of Culture and History Renay Conlin, who accepted the gift on behalf of the West Virginia State Museum Board, said that the significance of the chemical industry in the state’s history is an important story to be told in the new Museum.

big check

“West Virginia’s natural resources helped fuel the industrial revolution and its manufacturing centers were among the most productive in America,” she added. “Union Carbide has long been one of the major players in the chemical industry and it is most appropriate that they have stepped up to support this vital project. Union Carbide is a good corporate citizen and we are most appreciative of their generous gift.”

In addition to Macdonald, Union Carbide officials present at the event included Mike Agee, manager of the South Charleston plant; Jay Dlugos, manager of the Technical Center; Dr. Dwight Sherman, director of regional public affairs; and Bob Chenoweth, president of the Carbide Retiree Corps. Items from the West Virginia State Museum collection related to the chemical industry were on display at the announcement, including a 260-gallon ceramic vat used to store and transport chemicals during World War I; a circa 1958 Plexiglas model of one of the units at Union Carbide’s Institute Plant; an early device (patent issued 1907) for recording time, temperature and pressure at the Carbide plant in Diamond; and a Calcium Carbide container from the mid-1950s. A number of the items will be on display in the new Museum.

group photo

Pictured, from left, are Bob Chenoweth, president of the Carbide Retiree Corps; John Mcdonald, president of the Union Carbide Foundation; Renay Conlin, commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History; Mike Agee, South Charleston plant manager; Dwight Sherman, Carbide's director of regional public affairs; Thad Epps, Carbide retiree and member of the West Virginia State Museum Board; and Jay Dlugos, manager of the Technical Center.

Union Carbide Corporation is a worldwide chemicals and polymers company. Its history in the Kanawha Valley began in 1920 when the company’s first commercial ethylene plant was completed in Clendenin. Three years later, the company purchased land in South Charleston to build a plant that would produce ethylene-based chemicals. In 1947, Carbide purchased the plant in Institute, which it had previously built and operated for the government for the production of butadiene and styrene at the start of World War II. Last August, Union Carbide and The Dow Chemical Company announced an $11.6 billion merger to create the world’s second-largest chemical company, to be known as The Dow Chemical Company.

The Union Carbide Foundation is a $20 million charitable trust established to enhance the corporation’s commitment to be an involved citizen in the communities where its employees work and live. The Foundation makes grants in three primary areas: education, diversity and environmental protection.

In February, the Clay Foundation Inc. of Charleston announced a $350,000 gift to the Millennium Fund. The Charleston law firm of Farmer, Cline & Arnold contributed the campaign’s kickoff gift of $50,000 in December. In addition, American Electric Power donated $40,000, McJunkin Corporation has pledged $20,000 and several smaller gifts have been received, bringing the total pledged to-date to $565,000. Paul D. Marshall and Associates of Charleston has pledged to donate architectural services to the project. For more information about the Millennium Fund for the West Virginia State Museum, contact Alison Bibbee at (304) 558-0220, ext. 780.