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David Rubenstein gives Smithsonian $5.4M to complete renovation of historic Renwick Gallery

Then first lady Laura Bush looks at Grant Woods

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Then first lady Laura Bush looks at Grant Woods "American Gothic" March 9, 2006 at the Renwick Gallery in Washington. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP, Shealah Craighead, White House

WASHINGTON - Businessman David Rubenstein is giving $5.4 million to help the Smithsonian renovate the Renwick Gallery, the nation's first structure built to be an art museum.

The gift announced Monday completes the private fundraising for the $30-million renovation project. Congress is providing half the funds, and the Smithsonian raised the other half.

The Smithsonian Board of Regents voted to name the Renwick Gallery's Grand Salon in Rubenstein's honour.

The Renwick is a National Historic Landmark that's part of the Smithsonian American Art Museum. It was built across from the White House, designed in 1859 for the Corcoran art collection. It was called the "American Louvre" when it opened, symbolizing the nation's aspirations.

Congress proposed razing the building in 1956, but first lady Jacqueline Kennedy led a campaign to save it.

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