Boeing gifts $3 million to Field Museum


Photo Editor Lou Foglia

Boeing gifts $3 million to Field Museum

By Assistant Arts & Culture Editor

The Field Museum of Natural History’s Action Center will be able to have a stronger influence on conservation after receiving a monetary gift from a Chicago-based company.

On Oct. 8, the Boeing Company donated $3 million to the museum’s Action Center, an organization that focuses on conservation efforts in Chicago, the eastern Andes Mountains and the Amazon River.

The gift will advance the museum’s Action Centers ongoing efforts to improve the quality of life in global communities and help support global environmental land preservation, according to an Oct. 8 press release from James McNerney, CEO of the Boeing Company.

Charles Katzenmeyer, vice president for Institutional Advancement at the Field Museum, praised the Boeing Company for its continued support of the museum throughout the last decade.

“The Boeing Company has been enormously generous with institutions since bringing its headquarters to Chicago 10 years ago,” Katzenmeyer said. “They have a particular interest in our conservation programs and have supported us in the past, and this is another investment in the conservation work that we do, both in urban centers and in the Amazon region.”

John Dern, vice president of public relations at the Boeing Company, said the donation will help assess the status of specific conservation corridors, not only in the city of Chicago but in South American communities as well. Dern said the money will help the museum’s Action Center to improve the living conditions in these communities.

“Conservation outcomes will be developed in order to address specific needs for a particular corridor, and actions will be pursued to achieve those outcomes,” Dern said in an email. “This donation will be used to develop more displays of natural history, feasibility studies and advisory panels for projects in the Chicago area.”

Katzenmeyer said the $3 million gift will also shed light on conservation efforts of lesser-known countries and communities. 

According to Katzenmeyer, the donation will help with studies and information that will assist for government officials in protecting and preserving land.

“The museum’s work in conservation is to offer high quality collection-based expertise that helps us understand the biodiversity and richness of the environment that are in little-known places in the world,” Katzenmeyer said. “Often, that information is made available and helpful to local governments that are looking to make decisions on how to protect those lands.”

Katzenmeyer said Boeing’s donation will help the museum’s “biological inventories,” which document and identify living species found in a defined community.

“We have a proven record of working with local and indigenous people and communities to assess what we do—we call them rapid biological inventories of regions,” Katzenmeyer said. “That academic assessment turns into helpful information that can then turn into conservation and long-term protection of those lands.”

Cassandra Francis, president of Friends of the Parks, a Chicago park advocacy organization, said she hopes the donation to the Field Museum will hopefully lead to more land conservation in the Chicago community through the years.

“We hope that the museum’s conservation efforts elsewhere will bring exciting research and exhibits back to Chicago,” Francis said. “We are also thrilled that the Field Museum is focusing some of their conservation efforts also in Chicago, which has a great need for land conservation as well.”

According to Katzenmeyer, the donation also helps the museum’s reputation as being a first-rate scientific organization.

“We are really a group that offers first-rate scientific information about biodiversity of these regions,” Katzenmeyer said. “Over the past 20 years, that expertise has translated into decisions by the Peruvian government to save 33 million acres in the Andes and Amazon.”

Katzenmeyer said the Boeing donation will greatly help the museum in the future, and he said he hopes the positive relationship between Boeing and the Field Museum continues.

“It’s a wonderful gift and it’s the kind of endorsement gift that we invite companies to make,” Katzenmeyer said. “We’re always thrilled when [endorsers] see the value of our programs and see them continue.”