Tyson Gift Creates Art Scholars Program

by Steve Brawner (BRAWNERSTEVE@MAC.COM) 24 views 

A $5 million gift from the Tyson family and Tyson Foods will establish a research and residency program at Bentonville’s Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

The Tyson Scholars of American Art will bring scholars to Bentonville to research the history of American art by using the museum’s permanent collection and library. Scholars will interact with Crystal Bridges staff and the community and will collaborate with the University of Arkansas.

The program and prize were announced today at the museum.

Scholars will be selected by a committee of Crystal Bridges staff members and outside art historians based on their submitted proposals. Each scholar will receive a stipend and will be housed in Bentonville.

In a press release announcing the grant, Don Bacigalupi, executive director of Crystal Bridges, said, “American art has historically received too little attention from scholars and academic programs as a field of research. Funding for its study has been sadly limited. Here at Crystal Bridges, we have made it part of our mission to help improve that situation. 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.”

The grant also establishes the Don Tyson Prize to recognize a lifetime of achievement in American art. It is named in honor of the late Don Tyson, founder of Tyson Foods. Tyson began collecting traditional American Western art in the 1960s, and his son, John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods, is also a collector.

The first group of Tyson Scholars are: Matthew Bailey of St. Louis, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Art History and Archaeology at Washington University in St. Louis; Dr. Jason Weems, an assistant professor at the University of California, Riverside; and Dr. Susan Rather, a professor in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas, Austin.  Bailey is working on a Ph.D. dissertation, while Weems and Rather are writing books.