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Tyson Think Tank

Tyson Think Tank: Short Term Focus, Long Term Impact

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art and the Tyson Scholars Program are pleased to announce the introduction of the Tyson Think Tank, a short-term fellowship opportunity for scholars of American art, focused on a particular topic. The pilot program will take place in August 2021.

Each year, Crystal Bridges will select a Distinguished Scholar to lead the Tyson Think Tank, and invite applications for three to four Fellows at varying stages of their careers to pursue original scholarship around a theme or topic of critical importance to the field of American art. The program topic will change each year, but will always use the Crystal Bridges collection as integral to the conversations and research. The Tyson Think Tank encourages scholars to expand the boundaries and traditional categories of investigation into American art and visual culture and use the museum as a testing ground for developing holistic and inclusive practices.

Dr. Carrie Rebora Barratt will serve as our first Distinguished Scholar. Formerly Curator of American Art and Deputy Director for Collection at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Dr. Barratt brings her abiding interest in early American painting, and her conviction that different perspectives can complicate the ways artworks are received. In looking anew at her own past scholarship on John Singleton Copley through the lens of current scholarship reexamining approaches to early American art, she is reckoning with much-needed interrogation of traditional American art—portraits, landscapes, and genre scenes painted by white artists for white audiences and patrons and collected by museums to create an exclusive canon. As museums consider more inclusive approaches to American art, our topic will explore what a tool kit for re-presenting and reckoning may look like.


While in residence as a Distinguished Scholar, Dr. Barratt will focus on Copley’s 1765 portrait of Frances Deering Atkinson, found in the Crystal Bridges collection. Each Fellow will also propose a single work of art, preferably at Crystal Bridges, or in a collection in close proximity to each applicant’s home institution, as the focus of their study. While in residence, Fellows will conduct individual research and writing, participate in workshops and individual discussions around the area of focus, engage in close-looking exercises with artworks in the Crystal Bridges collection, hear from guest speakers and scholars from the museum, the University of Arkansas and throughout Northwest Arkansas, and convene with a larger group of scholars and museum professionals at the conclusion of the residency to share research. Outcomes from the Tyson Think Tank may inform revised content and interpretation of Crystal Bridges collection, but the fellowship is intended to invigorate the research and scholarship of individual Fellows through their work with a cohort of scholars focused on a similar topic.

Mrs. Theodore Atkinson Painting
John Singleton Copley, Mrs. Theodore Atkinson Jr. (Frances Deering Wentworth), 1765, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Residency and Stipend

The Distinguished Scholar will be in residence at Crystal Bridges for four weeks in August 2021. The Fellows will join the Distinguished Scholar in residence at Crystal Bridges for three weeks.

Each Fellow receives a $3,600 stipend ($1,200 per week), travel/relocation grant, and residency in Crystal Bridges’ scholars housing.

Application Process

Crystal Bridges and the Tyson Scholars of American Art Program invite academic and museum professionals at any stage in their career who are researching American art to apply. We encourage and support scholarship that seeks to expand boundaries and traditional categories of investigation into American art and visual culture. Applicants may be focusing on art history, architecture, visual and material culture, American studies, craft, Indigenous art, and Latin American art. Applications will be evaluated on the originality and quality of the proposed research project and the potential of their proposed research project to impact the field of American art history and contribute to a more equitable and inclusive history of American art.

Applicants must demonstrate professional engagement with new approaches to art of early America and describe an existing or proposed research project to advance while in residence at Crystal Bridges. In the proposal, identify a single object as the focus of investigation, and address the relevance of the research project to the topic, as outlined in the description above.

Please submit the following to by June 30, 2021.

  • 500-word proposal
  • One letter of recommendation
  • Curriculum Vitae (not more than 10 pages)