Editor's note: This is the third of a three-part series about the Aiken Together campaign that was recently announced to raise funds through private donations for the Center for African American History, Art and Culture, the Aiken Visitors Center and Train Museum and the funding to open a Savannah River Site Heritage Center. Today's story covers the Savannah River Site Heritage Center.
The third major project in the Aiken Together campaign is a Savannah River Site Heritage Center, which will be housed in downtown Aiken.
Chaired by Savannah River Nuclear Solutions CEO Dwayne Wilson, Aiken Together will look to raise funds for the development or completion of the Center for African American History, Art and Culture; the Aiken Visitors Center and Train Museum; and the Savannah River Site Heritage Center.
“SRS has always been a major influence on the community and the nation. It has produced numerous scientific accomplishments and forever changed the lifestyle of the surrounding communities, schools, roadways and employment demographic,” said J. Walter Joseph, executive director of the SRS Heritage Foundation.
The SRS Heritage Center would be built in a downtown Aiken building; although, members of Aiken Together have not specified yet which one.
The center will showcase the history of the Site, including its past and present work and people. It will feature a timeline and a series of videos, photographs and interactive exhibits all related to the legacy of SRS. Exhibits will cover the Cold War, nuclear physics, the impacts of the Site, those who had to make major lifestyle changes, technology and accomplishments of the Site.
“People brought their interests and enthusiasms to Aiken, and SRS and contributed to things like the Aiken Playhouse,” Joseph added. “That story needs to be told so that young people will get a sense of the pleasures and excitements of working in the technical fields.”
Funds raised by Aiken Together will be used for building reconfiguration, infrastructure to accommodate visitors and exhibit design and installations. The group prides itself in using zero public funding. Instead, it is seeking funding from businesses, companies and corporations.
According to the organization, about 31 percent of the allocated funds will be used for the Heritage Center, with 41 percent going toward the Center for African-American culture and 28 percent to the Aiken Visitors Center and Train Museum.
“Aiken has such a rich heritage,” Joseph added. “The SRS Heritage Foundation is leading the effort. We're a nonprofit, and our mission is to preserve the history of the Site, and this museum will be a major step in doing that.”