Warner Bros. donates $5 million to Smithsonian

Funds earmarked for American History auditorium renovation

Warner Bros. Entertainment has donated $5 million to the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History for the renovation and upgrade of a 46-year-old auditorium into a modern theater that can play 35 mm or digital 3D movies.

The 270-seat theater in the Washington, D.C. museum, which has been known as the Carmichael Auditorium, will be renamed the Warner Bros. Theater when it re-opens next year. It is expected to be used for lectures, concerts and other events as well as to show movies.

The theater had been named after Leonard Carmichael, who was the seventh Secretary of the Smithsonian. He will be recognized in the future with a plaque in the lobby and as part of a display about the museum at the National Mall entrance. The display will also honor Frank Taylor who founded the museum.

"This partnership with the Smithsonian, whose very name is the gold standard for the preservation and presentation of all things with historical significance," said Warner Bros. chairman Barry Meyer, "is a great step reminding people that movies and television shows are an important part of our shared culture."

The museum's collection includes drawings from the first Mickey Mouse animated film, "Steamboat Willie," and one of the Technicolor motion-picture cameras used in 1939 to film "The Wizard of Oz," as well as the ruby slippers worn by Judy Garland in the movie.