Southwestern Bell Donates $1.2 Million for Discovery Center Theater

April 29, 1998

The Southwestern Bell Foundation announced today a $1.2 million grant to Baylor University's Discovery Complex campaign. The funds will be used for the Southwestern Bell Discovery Theater, a 200-seat, state-of-the-art facility with a 22-foot screen for video presentations focused on Central Texas natural history.

"We are profoundly grateful to the Southwestern Bell Foundation for this major gift that allows our dream of a first-rate museum complex to move a step closer to reality," said Baylor President Robert B. Sloan Jr. "This complex will become a focal point and will attract thousands of Central Texas children and other visitors each year. It also will serve as an important component in the effort by local government and private entities to develop further the Brazos River corridor into a beautiful and functional part of our city."

"Southwestern Bell is proud to support this state-of-the-art theater that will be a resource for families in Central Texas and beyond," said Erin Davis, external affairs manager, Southwestern Bell.

The Discovery Theater is a centerpiece of the new Discovery Center at Baylor that will be comprised of exhibits in both natural history and cultural arts. Designed as an interactive and integrated family learning environment, the natural history exhibits will be the only complex concentrating on the natural and cultural crossroads of the Central Brazos River Basin of Texas. Exhibits related to the cultural arts will be world renowned in scope.

"This gift will enable us to create the most technologically-advanced theater system available today. We will be able to present everything from 8mm to 70mm and be a resource to the entire campus, especially the department of communications," said Calvin Smith, director of the Strecker Museum Complex and chair of the department of museum studies. "The Southwestern Bell gift allows us to set the course for this project, establishing credibility with other foundations, corporations, granting agencies and interested individuals." Currently, the Discovery Complex campaign is in the major gift phase.

Included among the integral components of the Complex are the Discovery Center, the Gov. Bill and Vara Daniel Historic Village and the outdoor Environmental Experience. Combining these with the adjacent Texas Ranger Hall of Fame and the Texas Sports Hall of Fame will provide families and school groups excellent learning opportunities.

In addition to the theater, the 110,000-square-foot Discovery Center will contain the John K. Strecker natural science collection, the Anding Exhibitions Gallery, the Discovery Place for Children (the expanded Ollie Mae Moen Center) and the department of museum studies.

More than 75,000 people annually visit the current museums complex. This year alone, more than 50,000 children from throughout Central Texas have participated in activities at the Ollie Mae Moen Center children's museum. Baylor officials project that the Discovery Center will attract 200,000 visitors annually.

SBC Communications Inc., the parent company of Southwestern Bell, Pacific Bell, Nevada Bell and Cellular One, provided this grant through its philanthropic arm, the SBC Foundation.

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