Tyson Family, Company Give $5 million Gift to Support Arts

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art received a $5 million gift from the Tyson family and Tyson Foods Inc. today to establish the Tyson Scholars of American Art and the Don Tyson Prize.

Tyson Scholars is a research and residency program that will promote the study and understanding of American art, while the Don Tyson Prize is a special recognition for lifetime achievement in American art.

Research residency programs provide scholars the opportunity to focus on large-scale projects without the interruptions of their regular professional duties. With the Tyson Scholars of American Art program, Crystal Bridges joins other national institutions, such as the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, the Terra Foundation for American Art, and the Getty Research Institute, in supporting research that contributes to the overall body of knowledge in the field of American art history.

"American art has historically received too little attention from scholars and academic programs as a field of research," said Don Bacigalupi, executive director of Crystal Bridges, a world-class art museum that opened in Bentonville in November 2011. "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.

"In addition, through the Don Tyson Prize, named in honor of the late Don Tyson, former chairman and CEO of Tyson Foods, we'll also be able to honor people who have advanced American art during their career.”

John Tyson, chairman of Tyson Foods and presiding co-chair of the Northwest Arkansas Council, said the company is “proud to help establish this unique scholars program and the lifetime achievement award named in honor of my dad.”

"This gift reflects our long-held love of art as well as our belief in the importance of education,” Tyson said. “It also demonstrates how much we value the mission of Crystal Bridges and what this incredible museum means to Northwest Arkansas and the rest of the nation.”

The Tyson family's interest in American art began with Don Tyson's love of traditional American Western art, which he started collecting in the 1960s. His son, John H. Tyson, is also an avid collector. Over the past 20 years he has significantly expanded and diversified what has now become the Tyson Foods corporate collection. It includes the works of such artists as Ansel Adams, Troy Anderson, Thomas Hart Benton, Charlie Dye, Sam Francis, Harry Jackson, Frank McCarthy, Charles M. Russell, Andy Warhol and Jack Woods.

The entire press release is available at this link.