Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announces Reese Teacher Fellowship

Lauren Williams's picture
Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Recently Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announced the results of a study that demonstrated the positive effects of an educational museum experience on K-12 students. Now the museum seeks to encourage the development of high-quality arts-related curriculum through the founding of a research fellowship for high school teachers. The William Reese Company Teacher Fellowship seeks to enrich high school curriculum by encouraging research into the development of interdisciplinary connections between American art and core curriculum subjects of language arts, history, social studies, and the sciences.

The fellowship was established by the William Reese Company of New Haven, Conn, which works with collectors and institutions in the acquisition of rare books and manuscripts as well as in collection development. The company, which was instrumental in helping Crystal Bridges develop its inaugural library holdings, has also established Reese Fellowships which encourage research in the history of the book and other print formats, The William Reese Company Teacher Fellowship at Crystal Bridges will be administered by the Crystal Bridges Library.

"In 1998, I began a fellowship program to bring scholars to research libraries in the field of American history, and since then the Reese Company has funded more than 200 fellowships for graduate students and senior scholars,” said William Reese. “My work with libraries as a bookseller and board member has convinced me that providing the same research opportunities to high school teachers can have an extraordinary impact on their careers and their students. I am very pleased to work in partnership with Crystal Bridges on this pioneering program."

High school educators value libraries and what they have to offer in terms of 21st-century information literacy skills that can both facilitate creative learning and be passed along to students. “What distinguishes the Reese Teacher Fellowship is its relationship with the Crystal Bridges Library coupled with the guiding principal of advancing high school teacher education,” said Zev Slurzburg, Crystal Bridges school and community programs manager. “The Fellowship is designed to encourage creative research projects that draw on the assets of the library to create arts-integrated curriculum to enhance traditional teaching methods and student engagement.” “There are unique and rare items in the museum library, and many are primary resources that help substantiate the story of American art,” said Catherine Petersen, director of the Crystal Bridges Library. “A handwritten letter, or an 18th-century colored lithograph of a plant, or an atlas from a western geological survey from the 1870s can engage students in exciting cross-discipline learning.”

The Reese Teacher Fellowship is open to high school educators affiliated with a public, private, or charter school. The Fellowship will be a one-month residential program that includes a $4,000 stipend which may be used to cover transportation and housing costs during the recipient’s residency at Crystal Bridges. Fellows will be selected on the basis of their project narrative and the potential to enrich high school curriculum based on an interdisciplinary connection between American art primary and secondary print resources and a subject topic. Curriculum subject areas may be language arts, history, social studies, or sciences focused, and contribute to the understanding of a topic as it intersects with American art. Creative research projects that seek to enhance traditional teaching methods and engagement are particularly encouraged. Fellows will have access to the art and library special collections of Crystal Bridges as well as the University of Arkansas Libraries in nearby Fayetteville.

“Crystal Bridges Library offers not only a collection of more than 50,000 volumes of art reference material, it also includes substantial holdings of primary resources relating to American art history in the special collection and archives,” explained Crystal Bridges Library Director Catherine Petersen. “With Crystal Bridges’ mission-directed emphasis on education, our library makes an ideal base from which to conduct research meant to enhance art-based pedagogy.”

Information on applying for the Reese Teacher Fellowship is available at Applications will be accepted through March 1, 2014. Qualified applications will be reviewed by a committee representing Crystal Bridges library, education, and curatorial departments and one external reviewer. The selection of the Reese Teacher Fellow will be announced in March for a summer 2014 residency.

About William Reese Company

Since 1975, William Reese Company has served a large international clientele of collectors and private and public institutions in the acquisition of rare books and manuscripts and in collection development.

With a catalogued inventory of more than 40,000 items, and a general inventory of more than 65,000 items, William Reese Company is among the leading specialists in the fields of Americana and world travel, and maintains a large and eclectic inventory of literary first editions and antiquarian books of the 18th through 21st centuries. Additional information available at

About Crystal Bridges

The mission of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature. We explore the unfolding story of America by actively collecting, exhibiting, interpreting, and preserving outstanding works that illuminate our heritage and artistic possibilities.

Opened to the public on 11-11-11, Crystal Bridges was founded in 2005 by the Walton Family Foundation as a nonprofit charitable organization for all to enjoy. Philanthropist and arts patron Alice Walton chairs the Museum’s board of directors. Since its opening, the Museum has welcomed nearly 1.2 million visitors, and garnered more than 7,900 households in its membership. Some 39,000 school children have participated in the Museum’s Willard and Pat Walker School Visit program, which provides educational experiences for school groups at no cost to the schools. More than 200,000 visitors a year utilize the Museum’s 3.5 miles of walking trails.

Crystal Bridges takes its name from a nearby natural spring and the bridge construction incorporated in the building, designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie. A series of pavilions nestled around two spring-fed ponds house galleries, meeting and classroom spaces, and a large, glass-enclosed gathering hall. Guest amenities include a restaurant on a glass-enclosed bridge overlooking the ponds, a Museum Store designed by architect Marlon Blackwell, and a library featuring more than 50,000 volumes of art reference material. Sculpture and walking trails link the Museum's 120-acre park to downtown Bentonville, Arkansas.

Crystal Bridges’ permanent collection spans five centuries of American masterworks ranging from the Colonial era to the current day. Included within the collection are iconic images such as Asher B. Durand’s Kindred Spirits, Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter, and Andy Warhol’s Coca-Cola [3]— each reflecting a distinct moment in American artistic evolution—as well as major works by modern and contemporary American artists, including Georgia O’Keeffe, John Baldessari, and James Turrell. The permanent collection, which continues to grow through a strategic acquisition plan, is on view year-round and is enhanced by an array of temporary exhibitions, which were viewed by some 216,000 visitors in 2013.

Crystal Bridges provides year-round programming for all ages. In 2013, more than 300 public programs were offered, including lectures, performances, classes, and continuing education for K-12 teachers. An award-winning app, available free from iTunes, features audio tours of current and past exhibitions, and many of the Museum’s lectures and gallery talks are available in Crystal Bridges’ iTunes U site. A new initiative to develop high-quality distance-learning opportunities for students and teachers begins this year.

Crystal Bridges also offers two research fellowship programs. The Tyson Scholars in American Art program supports full-time scholarship in the history of American art. The Reese Teacher Fellowship provides for research into the development of interdisciplinary connections between American art and core curriculum subjects of language arts, history, social studies, and the sciences.

Additional information about Crystal Bridges is available online at