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Crystal Bridges Announces the Departure of Senior Director Sandy Edwards

Sandy Edwards. Photo by Ironside Photography / Stephen Ironside.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announces that Sandy Edwards will conclude her role as senior director in January 2023, departing after a 15-year tenure with a significant focus on fundraising efforts and key initiatives that furthered the museum’s mission of providing access to all.

“Fifteen years ago, when I joined the newly founded organization that would become Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, I was drawn to its mission and the impact it could have on our community,” says Edwards. “From being part of an evolving and growing organization focused on building facilities, a collection, and a team to becoming a dynamic, established, and well-respected force within the museum field and art world, it has proven to be a remarkable and richly rewarding experience. As we complete our 11th anniversary celebration, it’s an ideal time for me to pass the torch. I’ve had the pleasure of watching my colleagues develop into dedicated leaders who are inspired by the museum’s mission, committed to the communities we serve, and well-prepared to successfully advance the next chapter.”

Edwards joined the museum in 2007, playing a vital role in the conception, planning, and opening of Crystal Bridges. She was instrumental in the establishment of endowments for the museum’s operations, acquisitions, and capital improvements, as well as grants that provide free admission to the museum and underwrite the costs of school visits. Serving as deputy director from 2007 to 2020, she managed departments responsible for growth in audiences, promoting access, fundraising, community development, and creating a national presence for the museum. During her tenure, the museum has welcomed over 11 million visitors to its campus and grounds. She was instrumental in developing the Walker School Tour Program and the Windgate School Partnership Program, ensuring free school visits and arts education for K-12 school students.

“The impact that Sandy Edwards has had on Crystal Bridges is evident throughout all that we do, from the mission of welcoming all with free admission to ensuring that all students have access to arts experiences,” said Rod Bigelow, executive director and chief diversity and inclusion officer. “She departs Crystal Bridges inspiring a newly founded museum, charting our course to be a major catalyst for positive change in our community, our region, and the museum field.”


Sandy Edwards in front of Lunar Rendezvous--Circle of Flowers (1969) by Alma Thomas. Photo by Ironside Photography / Stephen Ironside.

Prior to Crystal Bridges, Edwards worked with the University of Arkansas in directing the Campaign for the Twenty-First Century. Previously, at Penn State University, she created the first comprehensive advancement program in the field of continuing and distance education and played a significant role in the development of the World Campus. Prior to her involvement in university development, she was recognized nationally for her work in the fields of major concert promotion and performing arts.

As an advocate of access to quality education, Edwards served as a trustee on the board of her alma mater, Lenoir Rhyne College; received the Penn State’s Outreach Pioneer Award for Distance Education; was named honorary alumna of the University of Arkansas; and received an Honorary Doctorate in Humane Letters and Distinguished Alumna Award from Western Illinois University where she received a master’s degree.