Crystal Bridges Art Museum receives $10 million endowment

BENTONVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) — The Cyrstal Bridges Museum of American Art announced Thursday that it has received a $10 million endowment gift from the Alice L. Walton Foundation that will benefit its internship program.

According to a press release, Crystal Bridges announced that the gift is one of the nation’s largest museum endowments dedicated to developing the next generation of artistic leadership. The statement said it will enable the museum to add “breadth, depth and oversight to its nationally recognized initiative, reconstituting its robust internship program into a” commitment to future leaders. Arts “.

Operating for over a decade, the Bentonville Art Museum has provided many opportunities for students to broaden their experience through hands-on learning on-site and, more recently, in its contemporary art satellite space, the Momentary.

“Five years ago, we enhanced an already successful internship program to focus on hiring and developing leaders from diverse backgrounds. Today, we recognize that there is still work to be done,” says Alice Walton, Founder, Board Member and President Emeritus of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. “I believe it is essential for museums to build an inclusive culture, and to do this it is imperative to educate and develop future artistic leaders.”

Crystal Bridges also announced its partnership with Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia, and Fisk University in Nashville, Tennessee, to recruit interns from populations currently underrepresented in artistic leadership.

The museum says the potential for learning experiences across all artistic disciplines has increased dramatically in 2020 with the opening of the Momentary, whose mission to showcase “contemporary visual, performing and culinary arts” expands opportunities for trainees to explore all kinds of artistic expressions.

At the Momentary, interns can receive training in theatrical directing, music festival management, art making, and sophisticated food production – cultural and educational experiences that are hugely appealing to a new generation of museum staff.

One aspect that Crystal Bridges plans to use the staffing to better educate its interns is the addition of an administrator focused “solely on the internship program and its impact.” With a dedicated coordinator, the museum says it will provide a more equitable experience and allow curators and other content experts to focus on student learning.

The intern coordinator will also install a rigorous evaluation system to continuously measure the overall impact of the program, monitor the quality of the individual experience, discover new aspects of museum practices, and prepare interns for additional courses and job opportunities in the field. In addition, the trainee coordinator will follow the students’ cultural careers for at least five years after their stay at Crystal Bridges.

“This generous donation embodies everything that has interested me since Alice cared as a museum leader and patron of the arts – access, diversity and education of the next generation, a representative generation, of leaders in the arts,” said Rod Bigelow, Executive Director and Chief Diversity Officer. & Inclusion Officer at Crystal Bridges. “This gift asks Crystal Bridges to continue to focus on diverse student learners and helps set a new standard in the field.”


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Reggie S. Williams