The Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Foundation has made a $1 million contribution to Flandrau: The University of Arizona Science Center in support of its Mineral Museum. The museum houses one of the top university mineral and meteorite collections in the country.
"Our relationship with the UA goes back a long, long time, back to the origins of both our institutions, and we are honored to provide support in several ways. This gift will help to create an environment for the public to become more informed about natural resources," said Timothy R. Snider, president and chief operating officer of Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc., which acquired Phoenix-based copper mining company Phelps Dodge Corp. in March of 2007.
"Through the generosity of Freeport-McMoRan, the Mineral Museum will continue to serve as a key outreach connection between the UA and our local communities," said UA President Robert N. Shelton.
The $1 million gift will be invested in an endowment to help the Mineral Museum maximize its presence as part of the Science Center, and expand its outreach and public education in the earth sciences. The endowment also will be used to encourage other donors to actively support the long-term growth and sustainability of the Mineral Museum.
"The generous gift from Freeport-McMoRan creates tremendous momentum for this exciting project – a project that is expected to result in one of the most innovative and state-of-the-art science centers in the country," said Alexis R. Faust, executive director of the science center.
The design for the Science Center started in September of last year, and construction is scheduled to begin in the fall.
The UA and the city of Tucson are partnering to develop the $130 million UA Science Center/Arizona State Museum complex to be built in Tucson’s downtown redevelopment area. In addition to the Mineral Museum, the UA Science Center will feature an observatory, an IMAX theater, a digital planetarium, a butterfly vivarium, a reality science exchange and a gallery for exhibits.
The Science Center also will introduce Pathways, a pioneering Internet and digital technology that will allow individuals to personalize their experience at the center based on their own interests, hobbies and education levels.
The UA Science Center is projected to open in 2011 and is expected to attract 340,000 visitors to downtown Tucson each year. It will be open seven days a week, 364 days a year, with activities and shows planned into the evening hours, including an observatory that will be open until 10 p.m.