By Dallas Business Journal

The Museum of Nature & Science in Dallas has announced two $1-million challenge grants from Highland Capital Management LP and Atmos Energy Corp. that will extend matching gift opportunities for the new $185 million Perot Museum.

The museum has now raised more than $170 million of the $185 million campaign goal, which provides funding for site acquisition, exhibition planning and design, construction of the new building, education programs and an endowment. Currently under construction in Victory Park, the museum is set to open in early 2013.

⿿These wonderful gifts from Highland Capital Management and Atmos Energy bring us that much closer to finishing out our $185 million campaign to build the Perot Museum,⿝ said Forrest Hoglund, chair of the Perot Museum expansion campaign. ⿿This is another big boost for science education."

The two Dallas-based businesses will be recognized as co-sponsors of Dinner in the Wild 2011 and also will receive various donor benefits, including naming opportunities at the new museum.

⿿Dallas is our home. It⿿s where we raise our families and educate our children. We at Highland Capital Management are delighted to play a small role in bringing world-class science, math and technology education to our region,⿝ said James Dondero, president of Highland Capital Management.

Being a technology-based company, Atmos Energy understands the need to present science in a compelling way, said Kim R. Cocklin, president and CEO of Atmos Energy Corp. (NYSE: ATO).

⿿We see this museum as a powerful vehicle that will inspire young people to pursue science careers and also inform and educate everyone about the important role science plays in our lives,⿝ Cocklin said.

The Dinner in the Wild will be Nov. 17 at Fair Parkâ¿¿s Automobile Building. Its theme is Night at the Museum, and tickets to the event are sold out with a crowd of 1,600 expected, event co-chair Christie Scardino reports.

Copyright 2011 American City Business Journals

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