Widely regarded as the grandfather of the American Studio Furniture movement, Wharton Esherick (1887–1970) is a foundational figure in the area of contemporary craft and design. The gift from the Little Rock-based foundation will help support the museum's annual operating costs and enhancements to its campus. The planned improvements include a new visitors' center, enhanced access to Sunekrest and the 1956 Workshop, and a terraced Ramble connecting the lower and upper portions of the site. Recognized on the National Register of Historic Places in 1973, the twelve-acre wooded site was designated a National Historic Landmark for Architecture in 1993.
"To say we are excited and humbled is just the beginning," said Julie Siglin, executive director of the museum. "Being able to share news of this transformative gift with our founder, Wharton Esherick's son-in-law Bob Bascom, just weeks before his death, was one of the most profound moments of my life. This gift not only stabilizes the museum at a difficult moment, but also secures Bob's vision to preserve Esherick's studio for future generations while expanding our site to make it not just the story of a place in the history of American craft, but a more complete picture of an artful life well-lived."