New Civil Rights Museum in Mississippi gets $2.5 million donation, nears fundraising goal

16736236-largeJACKSON, Mississippi (AP) — Two Mississippi history museums being built in Jackson are moving closer to their private fundraising goal.

Including a new donation announced Friday, the Museum of Mississippi History and the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum have raised $11.3 million. The goal is $16 million of private money to go with an estimated $87 million in state funding.

The museums will share one structure. Construction started in December 2013, and opening is scheduled during the state’s bicentennial in 2017.

The latest contribution, $2.5 million, is the largest private donation to date. It comes from Ray Neilsen, who’s a former vice president of Ameristar Casino, and the California-based charity started by his father, the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation.

Ray Neilsen says he wants people to learn about Mississippi’s history, particularly in civil rights.