The University of Arkansas announced it will establish a new School of Art with a $120 million gift from the Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation, the philanthropic enterprise started by the family of late Walmart founder Sam Walton. Calling the donation the largest-ever gift given to a university in support of an art school, the university characterized the future school as the first of its kind in the state of Arkansas.
The School of Art will emphasize art education, art history, graphic design, and studio art, with goals including support for students with scholarships and travel grants; expanded graduate programs in art history, art education, and graphic design; and partnership with the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and other local arts organizations to engage in public service and outreach.
The Walton Family Charitable Support Foundation has a history with the University of Arkansas, having given $300 million to endow an undergraduate honors college and graduate school in 2002. It also figured in the development of Crystal Bridges, the American art museum open with much fanfare in Bentonville, Arkansas, in 2011.
In a statement, Joseph E. Steinmetz, the University of Arkansas’s chancellor, said, “The newly endowed School of Art will transform the university and region into an international hub for the study of art.”
Alice Walton, chairwoman of the board of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, added, “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. The unparalleled access to meaningful American art will connect the heartland to the world.”