The Alice L. Walton Foundation gave $10 million to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art on Thursday, making the museum's endowment one of the largest in the country that will develop the next generation of arts leadership.
The funds will turn its nationally recognized internship program, which it has had for more than a decade, into a "commitment to future arts leadership" by ensuring greater "breadth, depth and oversight," according to a news release.
Crystal Bridges would like to diversify its internship recruitment efforts and has started by partnering with Spelman College in Atlanta and Fisk University in Nashville, Tenn., to recruit interns from populations currently underrepresented in arts leadership, according to the release. The Walton gift will allow the museum to add an administrator focused solely on the internship program and its impact.
"Five years ago we strengthened (our) internship program to focus on hiring and nurturing leaders from diverse backgrounds," a statement from Alice Walton reads. "Today we recognize there is still work to do. I believe it's essential for museums to build an inclusive culture ... to do so, it's imperative to educate and develop future arts leaders."
Spelman and Fisk are two institutions that focus their art history programs on racial and cultural identities. Working with them reflects Crystal Bridges' promise to build a more diverse workforce and train new museum leaders, according to the release.
The opening of the Momentary contemporary art space in 2020 increased the potential for intern learning experiences by providing opportunities to "explore all manner of artistic expression," such as theatrical stagecraft, music festival management, art fabrication and culinary production, the release states.
Among the duties of the still-to-be-hired intern coordinator will be the task of installing an evaluation system to continually measure the program's impact, monitor the quality of the interns' individual experiences, prepare them for coursework and employment opportunities in the art field and track their cultural career for five years following their internship at Crystal Bridges.