The largest gift ever to a U.S. university in support of a school of art will establish the first and only school of art in Arkansas; provide students with access to arts education, art history, graphic design, and studio art curriculum; and advance arts education and research across the state. To that end, the funds will support three primary goals — providing scholarships, travel grants, and internship opportunities for students; engaging the region in the arts through partnerships with the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and other arts organizations; and expanding graduate programs and degree offerings. The gift also will support the university's Fine Arts Library and renovation of its Fine Arts Center.
To be housed within the J. William Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences and phased in over a five-year period, the school will place a strong emphasis on American art and art of the Americas, complementing the mission of Crystal Bridges, which is funded primarily by the Walton Family Foundation. "The vision to create the School of Art could not have come to fruition without the cooperative, close, and mutually beneficial relationship between the world-class Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the university," said university chancellor Joseph E. Steinmetz. "With an emphasis on cross-disciplinary collaborations and signature outreach efforts with the museum, and a focus on student, faculty, and staff diversity, the school will be uniquely positioned to develop programs to rival the top competitors in the field."
"The School of Art will shape a new generation of artists, historians, designers, and teachers with a unique understanding of the hope art can bring to communities," said Crystal Bridges board chair Alice Walton. "The unparalleled access to meaningful American art will connect the heartland to the world."
(Photo credit: University of Arkansas)