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Motown founder Berry Gordy's $4 million donation to the Motown Museum's $50 million, 50,000-square-foot expansion campaign comes at "the right time," museum officials said Wednesday.

Museum chairwoman and CEO Robin Terry said she and her great-uncle have been talking about a contribution for months, "and we gave some thought about when to announce it. As we approach Motown Weekend," she added, "with everyone so focused on the celebration of Motown's legacy, we thought this is the right time."

Motown Weekend will celebrate the record label's 60th anniversary Sept. 21-23, highlighted by a "Hitsville Honors" award ceremony at Detroit's Orchestra Hall Sept. 22. 

Mayor Mike Duggan called Gordy's gift "great news and a huge step forward for this vision."

Terry declined to say how much money has been raised to date overall. 

Last November, the museum confirmed $16.5 million in total contributions for the expansion. One month later, it announced $2.28 million in year-end contributions, including $1.3 million from the Kresge Foundation. 

Other pledges since 2016 include $6 million from UAW/Ford, $500,000 from the Hudson-Webber Foundation, $500,000 from the Detroit-based Elaine & Leo Stern Foundation, $225,000 from AARP, and $55,000 from the Michigan Council for the Arts and Cultural Affairs, among others.  

After taking the world by storm in the 1960s, Gordy moved Motown's operations to Los Angeles in 1972. But Terry said that never diminished his affection for his hometown.

"Detroiters know how much he cares about the city," she said, "and what a special place it holds in his heart. This gift just underscores that." 

Berry's donation is the single largest in the campaign so far from an individual. 

First announced in 2016, the proposed 50,000-square-foot complex on Ferry Park Avenue behind and around Hitsville will include a performance theater, expanded retail, recording studios and interactive exhibits, all with the aim of making it a global tourist draw. 

Gordy, 89, grew up on Detroit's east side and famously borrowed $800 from the family business to launch a musical empire that forever lodged Detroit in the world's musical imagination. 

"I'm excited about the future of Motown Museum and happy to support it," Gordy said in a prepared statement. "It will inspire and create opportunity for people to explore their dreams the way I did mine. I couldn't be prouder to be a part of that."

After Motown went to the West Coast, the Hitsville studio on West Grand Boulevard sat empty and forlorn until 1985, when Gordy's sister Esther Gordy Edwards founded the Motown Museum. 

Berry's gift gives new life to the expansion project. Asked about other donations in the pipeline, Terry just laughed and said, "Stay tuned." 

mhodges@detroitnews.com

(313) 222-6021

Twitter: @ mhodgesartguy 

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