When it opens on Nov. 11, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art will be more than just a museum – it will be an educational resource for the entire region. Now, thanks to a generous donation from the Willard and Pat Walker Charitable Foundation of Springdale, Ark., as many as 14,000 school children will be able to experience the new museum in its opening year. The Foundation has established a $10 million endowment to Crystal Bridges that will provide school groups with funds necessary for a complete museum visit.
The Willard and Pat Walker School Visit Program will provide schools with funding to cover the cost of transportation, lunches for the students and teachers, substitute teachers and pre- and post-visit educational materials. Funds will be available to all public and private K–12 schools on a first-come, first-served basis beginning in the fall of 2012.
“The Walker Foundation’s donation is a gift to schools all across the region,” said Don Bacigalupi, Crystal Bridges executive director. “Art is an important educational tool for teachers of many subjects, from art and literature to American history and social studies. Subsidies such as these allow us to further our mission of being accessible to even our youngest visitors. The Walker Foundation gift removes the financial barriers for schools and will allow the teachers and students to benefit from all that Crystal Bridges has to offer.”
Each visit will include a one-hour guided tour of the Museum’s permanent collection, a healthy lunch prepared by Eleven, the museum’s restaurant, and a half-hour session in the Experience Studio, a hands-on interactive gallery space. Teachers will be able to choose from several themed tours, each of which is designed to connect with existing curriculum in art, history, social studies, language arts and sciences at a variety of grade levels.
This gift supports the museum’s newly created Next Generation Fund which addresses the economic, social and cultural barriers that often prevent diverse audiences from participating in the arts.
In honor of the Walker Foundation endowment, Crystal Bridges has named its large outdoor patio area “Walker Landing.” The landing—located between the lobby and the Museum’s educational wing—is a multi-purpose area that will accommodate school group lunches, as well as public performances and presentations in the circular waterside amphitheatre.
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art will begin taking applications for The Willard and Pat Walker School Visit Program beginning in spring 2012. For information, schools may email firstname.lastname@example.org. Complete information about school programming will be continuously updated at www.CrystalBridges.org.