- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 8, 2015

WASHINGTON (AP) - A gem aficionado is giving $13 million to the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History for science education initiatives.

The museum said Wednesday that Coralyn Wright Whitney is making the largest education donation in its history to support the science education center called Q?rius (pronounced “curious.”) The gift provides $11 million to endow daily educational programming for the public and school groups.

Whitney was a research professor at the University of Washington in Seattle. After retiring, she pursued her passion for rock hunting and earned degrees in gemology and jewelry.

In 2009, Whitney donated the 17-carat color-changing Whitney Alexandrite to the museum’s National Gem Collection. The Smithsonian says it has become a favorite of museum visitors. Whitney also established an endowment to support research and activities surrounding the gem collection.

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