The Windgate Foundation, which includes on its board one of the state’s most important wood artist Robyn Horn, announced today that it has made a gift of $17.5* million to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art for a focus on American craft. The gift will create a craft curator and support for programming, research and acquisitions of fine crafts.

The gift is timed to support the 2021 exhibition “Crafting America,” which will feature more than 100 objects when it opens Feb. 6 at Crystal Bridges.


The announcement included a quote by Horn:

“Contemporary crafts in America are the backbone of the creative community, enabling artists to develop the skills and physically produce the work they envision,” said Robyn Horn, Windgate Foundation Board Chair. “It is reassuring that Crystal Bridges acknowledges this fact and will begin to collect contemporary objects as well as displaying them with their upcoming Crafting America exhibition. Windgate Foundation has long been a supporter of American craft and we are pleased to partner with Crystal Bridges in encouraging their visitors to learn about these incredible objects.”

The Windgate Foundation, now headquartered in Little Rock, has invested tens of millions of dollars to support arts education to campuses and museums statewide. In 2017 it made a gift of $40 million to the University of Arkansas for the Windgate Arts and Design District in Fayetteville. It has been the driving donor behind arts centers at UA Fort Smith,  UA Little Rock and Hendrix College in Conway. The University of Central Arkansas has just broken ground on the Windgate Center for Fine and Performing Arts; Arkansas State University will build the Windgate Center for Three-Dimensional Arts in Jonesboro. Its supported the Arkansas Arts Center and the Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas. That’s a small sampling of the foundation’s work to boost the arts in Arkansas.


“Crafting America” will feature ceramics, wood, fiber, metal, glass and other crafts in other materials from the 1940s to today. Wire sculptor Ruth Asawa (who as a child was interned at Rohwer); ceramicist Peter Voulkos; Cherokee sculptor Jeffrey Gibson; fiber and mixed media artist Sonya Clark, songsuit maker Nick Cave, whose installation “Until” is at the Momentary in Bentonville; and quilter of film Sabrina Gschwandtner are some of the artists whose work is featured in the exhibition.

*An earlier version of this story put the gift at $14.5 million.