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BY TERESE LOEB KREUZER | New York is a city where anything can happen, and it does. Last week, Susan Henshaw Jones, Ronay Menschel director of the Museum of the City of New York and president of the South Street Seaport Museum, received a letter enclosing a check for half a million dollars to help restore the South Street Seaport Museum, severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy.
The check came from an anonymous donor as a Fidelity Charitable grant, an independent public charity with a donor-endorsed fund program.
Jeff Simmons, a spokesperson for the museum, said that Henshaw Jones was greatly moved by the gift. She was also moved by a child who donated $10 from his piggy bank. ‘I am so grateful to everyone who responded to our very real needs,’ she said. ‘Their generosity affirms that New Yorkers want the Seaport Museum to survive.’
Another large gift arrived this past week from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which gave the museum a $100,000 grant.
Thus far, the South Street Seaport Museum has collected more than $750,000 in cash and pledges to repair the destruction wrought by Sandy. Henshaw Jones estimates that it will take $22 million to replace the electrical wiring, elevators, escalators, telecommunications, air conditioning and heating equipment destroyed in the storm.
Post-Sandy support for the museum has come from around 500 donors, including corporations, foundations and individuals. The museum is still seeking contributions to fully restore and replace all of its damaged equipment. Donations can be made on the South Street Seaport Museum’s website at www.southstreetseaportmuseum.org.
In addition, the museum has applied to FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) for a grant, but when it will come through and in what amount is uncertain.
After having to cancel a planned reopening scheduled for Dec. 14 because the jury-rigged electrical system failed, the museum did reopen on Dec. 19 without elevators or escalators and with a makeshift heating system. A formal reopening with a celebratory party will take place in early January.