IAAM BP donation

Former Mayor Joe Riley (left) and International African American Museum CEO Michael Boulware Moore (right) show BP executive John Harvey a model of the planned museum at the Charleston Maritime Center. Provided/IAAM. 

A global oil and gas giant that operates a petrochemical plant on the Cooper River has donated $1 million to the International African American Museum.

Officials announced the donation from BP on Tuesday, hours before City Council was to review contracts valued art more than $60 million for the first phase of construction at the city-owned museum site along Charleston Harbor.  

BP's financial pledge will support the museum's construction and programming.

“We hope this donation will help the museum grow to become a premier attraction, research center and lasting memorial for generations to come," John Harvey, manager of BP's Cooper River plant, said in a statement. 

Museum CEO Michael Boulware Moore said the oil and gas company plans to continue a relationship with the IAAM beyond the donation. 

"We look forward to working together to find a variety of ways to connect and collaborate," Moore said. 

BP is one of the largest U.K.-based employers in the Charleston region. In 2017, the company completed a $200 million investment to make its local chemical operation off Cainhoy Road more energy efficient.

Amoco Corp. built the Charleston plant more than 40 years ago on waterfront land that once housed two plantations. BP acquired the U.S.-based oil company in 1998. 

So far, more than $90 million has been raised toward the creation of the IAAM. Though organizers hope to start site work and break ground soon next to the Charleston Maritime Center on Concord Street, fundraising efforts are ongoing, said former Mayor Joe Riley, who announced the project while in office almost 20 years ago. 

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"We're not going to stop raising money," said Riley, who added that the nonprofit fundraising group will continue to seek pledges to support construction and operations. 

Several Lowcountry employers have announced large gifts to the project this year. Steel giant Nucor Corp., which has a large mill just north of BP plant on the Cooper River, gave $2.5 million. Dominion Energy, which recently acquired South Carolina Electric & Gas, pledged the same amount last month. 

Mercedes-Benz Vans said in June that it would help fund the museum's "Studio Time Workshop," an interactive space for classes for students, families and other visitors. 

Other donors, including the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the founders of Spartanburg’s Johnson Collection and the New York-based Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, gave $1 million or more to the IAAM this year. 

Reach Emily Williams at 843-937-5553. Follow her on Twitter @emilye_williams.

Emily Williams is a business reporter at The Post and Courier, covering tourism and employment. She also writes the Business Headlines newsletter, which is published twice a week. Before moving to Charleston, her byline appeared in The Boston Globe.