Tyson gives art museum $5M for scholars program
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) — Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announced Wednesday it is starting a program that will allow scholars to be based there full-time for specialized study as part of the museum's effort to promote American art.
The museum also announced it will offer a prize for lifetime achievement in American art. Both programs are funded by a $5 million pledge from Tyson Foods Inc., which is based in nearby Springdale.
Crystal Bridges Executive Director Don Bacigalupi said American art hasn't received enough scholarly attention, something the new program and prize are intended to address.
"Thanks to the generosity of the Tyson family and Tyson Foods, our museum will be able to develop and foster a community of scholars committed to furthering the understanding and appreciation of American art," Bacigalupi said in a news release.
The museum, bankrolled by Alice Walton, daughter of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. founder Sam Walton, has amassed a tremendous collection of American paintings and sculpture. Crystal Bridges opened in November and experts regard it as the most important new museum in a generation.
The residential program will draw on scholars who work in museums and universities and provide research materials that include Crystal Bridges' library and permanent collection. Walton purchased large collections of art-related books to stock the museum's library.
A release from the museum says the scholars will "examine established themes and explore new ideas resulting in innovative research in their areas of expertise." Likewise, the museum hopes to draw on the scholars' knowledge and ideas for its exhibitions.
The researchers will work with the University of Arkansas and engage the public through lectures and other events. The first batch of scholars includes three people — two university professors and a PhD candidate.
The Don Tyson Prize for lifetime achievement is named for the meat company's former top executive and father of Tyson chairman John Tyson. The museum has begun the selection process for the first winner, who will be chosen by a panel of museum and academic art historians. The award includes an undisclosed cash prize and an event at Crystal Bridges that will coincide with the honor.
"We're proud to help establish this unique scholars program and the lifetime achievement award named in honor of my dad," John Tyson said. "This gift reflects our long-held love of art as well as our belief in the importance of education. It also demonstrates how much we value the mission of Crystal Bridges and what this incredible museum means to northwest Arkansas and the rest of the nation."