Fort Worth

Fort Worth science museum gets $1 million gift

The exterior of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History is shown in this 2009 file photo.
The exterior of the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History is shown in this 2009 file photo. Star-Telegram

A $1 million donation will enable the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History to focus on new technology for its digital learning programs.

Museum officials said they hope to raise another $1 million to match the donation from the Kleinheinz Family Foundation, which was announced Monday.

The money will go toward upgrading technology for the institution’s science, math and language literacy programs, which run from pre-kindergarten through grade 12, along with its public programs for families and adults.

“The gift is really a vote of confidence relative to our five-year strategic plan,” museum President Van A. Romans said. “There are a number of things going on and one of the things we have to address is technology. Tech is changing the landscape of learning.”

The Kleinheinz foundation, a private charitable organization, is supported through contributions from Marsha and John Kleinheinz of Fort Worth. Marsha Kleinheinz is also a museum trustee.

“We believe that without the Fort Worth Museum of Science and History, there would be a huge vacuum in the educational and cultural life of our city,” Marsha Kleinheinz said in a news release. “It is our hope that others will also see the value of this exceptional institution and join us in support of this wonderful museum.”

The museum faced challenges when the city began charging for parking in the Cultural District in 2010. Museum officials said in 2012 that parking issues helped contribute to a 20 percent decline in annual memberships.

That year, the City Council agreed to lease the museum a parking lot and to let it set its own rates and keep the money. Parking in the lot is free for members and $5 for nonmembers.

“Our members really want to come back regularly rather than just occasionally,” Romans said. ‘We’re doing just fine now.”

But Romans acknowledged that on busy days in the Cultural District, patrons may still be forced to park elsewhere and pay more.

Romans said the the museum needs donations like the Kleinheinz gift to keep growing.

‘We are a community-based institution,” Romans said. “When the community thrives, we thrive. We are certainly reliant on community-based funding.”

Marsha Kleinheinz is a 1983 graduate of Southern Methodist University and is also involved in the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Performing Arts Fort Worth, Gill Children’s Services, the Warm Place and the Van Cliburn Foundation.

John Kleinheinz moved to Fort Worth in 1993 and started Kleinheinz Capital Partners, a private investment management firm, in 1996.

Bill Hanna, 817-390-7698

Twitter: @fwhanna