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Shewmaker Gift to Support Hands-On Education at Crystal Bridges

BENTONVILLE, Ark., December 8, 2011
A $1 million gift from the Jack and Melba Shewmaker family will benefit the ongoing hands-on educational programs offered at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The donation, which is part of the museum’s Next Generation endowment fund, will provide supplies and ongoing maintenance for the museum’s studio art experiences.

“Congratulations to Alice Walton for this magnificent museum and art collection,” said Melba Shewmaker. “The Shewmaker family is happy for the opportunity to provide a hands-on learning experience for children and families. It is an honor to have a small part in helping Alice and Crystal Bridges bring art to life in our community.”

The education studios at Crystal Bridges provide “high-touch, low-tech” educational experiences for museum visitors of all ages, including interactive exhibits, art-making experiences, and opportunities for creative play and exploration. The Shewmaker family’s gift will help ensure that supplies in the studios are continuously replenished for use by museum guests.

“The Shewmaker’s gift will help to provide hands-on art experiences for thousands of families who visit Crystal Bridges,” said Don Bacigalupi, director of Crystal Bridges. “These experiences help to promote the appreciation and understanding of art, encourage interaction between generations, and create life-long memories for our guests. We are grateful to the Shewmaker family for their generous support.”

Shewmaker family members are long-time residents of Bentonville and great supporters of education. Until his retirement in 1988, Jack Shewmaker, who passed away a year ago, served in several administrative positions with Walmart, including president and chief operations officer, as well as vice chairman and chief financial officer. The Shewmakers also operate JAC’s Ranch, one of the largest angus cattle operations in Northwest Arkansas. The family supports many educational institutions, including the Arend Arts Center, Northwest Arkansas Community College, and Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE). In 2010 Jack and Melba Shewmaker were jointly presented with the Lifetime Philanthropic Achievement Award by the Northwest Arkansas Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is located in Bentonville, Ark. Additional information about Crystal Bridges is available online at