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Clay Foundation grants $350,000 to West Virginia State Museum renovation project

Renay Conlin, commissioner of the West Virginia Division of Culture and History and member of the West Virginia State Museum Board Inc. (WVSMB), today announced a $350,000 gift from Charleston's Clay Foundation Inc. to the Millennium Fund for the renovation of the West Virginia State Museum at the Cultural Center.

The 24-year-old museum, located on the lower level of the Cultural Center in the State Capitol Complex, will undergo a complete facelift over the next year-and-a-half. 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 by fall 2001 at a total cost of $6 million, $4 million of which has been pledged by the West Virginia Legislature. The WVSMB established the Millennium Fund last year to raise the remaining $2 million necessary for the completion of the project from the private sector.

"We couldn't be more pleased to announce this extremely generous gift from the Clay Foundation for such an important project," said Conlin. "We are approaching one-quarter of our fund-raising goal and can feel the momentum growing with each gift. We are confident we will raise the funds we need to complete this campaign to bring a history museum worthy of the people of West Virginia to the Cultural Center."

Governor Cecil H. Underwood also expressed his gratitude to the Clay Foundation for the donation. "The Clay Foundation has the foresight to see the positive impact the new State Museum will have on business, tourism, recreation and our whole quality of life," he said. "We are grateful to Buck and Lyell Clay for making a major contribution to the unique public-private partnership this campaign represents. It is truly a visionary project and one that will continue to impact our citizens for generations to come."

The Charleston law firm of Farmer, Cline & Arnold gave the campaign's kickoff gift of $50,000 to the Millennium Fund in December. In addition, McJunkin Corporation has pledged $20,000 and several smaller gifts have been received, bringing the total pledged to-date to more than $425,000. "We chose to make this gift because the State Museum renovation project is vital to the future of Charleston and West Virginia," said Lyell B. Clay of Charleston, one of the founders of the Clay Foundation. "The success of the Clay Center for the Arts & Sciences of West Virginia depends on making Charleston a tourist destination and there's no better way to do that than to have a world-class state history museum right down the street. We see the new West Virginia State Museum as an absolutely necessary addition to downtown and to our beautiful state-and one important enough to support with a significant donation."

The Clay Foundation was founded in 1986 by Buckner and Lyell Clay, former publishers of the Charleston Daily Mail. The foundation supports the arts and educational programs throughout West Virginia. For more information, call (304) 558-0220.