Smithsonian American Art Museum receives $2.1 million from the Windgate Foundation
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Smithsonian American Art Museum receives $2.1 million from the Windgate Foundation
Major gift establishes an endowment for acquiring artworks by living artists and support for fellowship positions. Photo: Ron Blunt.

WASHINGTON, DC.- The Smithsonian American Art Museum has received a $2.1 million gift from the Windgate Foundation to establish an endowment dedicated to acquiring artworks by living craft artists. The gift also funds two sequential one-year pre-doctoral fellowship positions that further scholarship in American craft. This major gift to the museum affirms the Renwick Gallery as the nation’s preeminent center for the enjoyment and study of American craft, and supports the leadership role of its craft program to advocate for a diverse and inclusive view of what is traditionally considered great art.

For the past decade, the Renwick Gallery has presented a series of exhibitions that reassess what craft is in a modern world. This new fund for acquisitions is dedicated to adding to the museum’s collection artworks made by a broadly representative and diverse group of American artists. This collecting effort will be featured, for the first time, in the museum’s upcoming exhibition “This Present Moment: Crafting a Better World” (opening May 2022), which celebrates the Renwick Gallery’s 50th anniversary by honoring the history of studio craft while also introducing progressive contemporary narratives and artists that highlight the more inclusive and changing landscape of American craft.

The two sequential one-year pre-doctoral fellowship positions will support new scholarship in the field of American craft. The positions offered during the 2022–2023 and 2023–2024 academic years, respectively, will provide emerging scholars with financial aid, unparalleled research resources and access to a network of world-class colleagues at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and across the field. The museum operates the premier fellowship program, which is the oldest and largest in the world for the study of American art.

“We are honored to receive this generous and enduring gift from the Windgate Foundation,” said Stephanie Stebich, the Margaret and Terry Stent Director at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. “At the Renwick Gallery we are dedicated to nurturing the field of American craft by supporting artists and scholars. This gift builds on our leadership in collecting, researching and exhibiting American craft and allows us to bring more contemporary and diverse voices into the collection.”

The Windgate Foundation has supported contemporary craft and visual arts since 1993. The new gift is a significant expansion of the foundation’s commitment to the craft program at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. Previously, the Windgate Foundation contributed to the reinstallation of the permanent collection galleries at the Renwick Gallery in 2015 following a renovation of its historic building, supported acquisitions and public programs such as the “Maloof Symposium: Furniture and the Future” in 2016 and provided funding for the 2010 exhibition catalog for “A Revolution in Wood: The Bresler Collection.”

The Windgate Foundation also supported a pre-doctoral fellowship in American craft for the 2021–2022 academic year. Awarded to Sara Morris of the University of California, Santa Barbara, the fellowship supports her work on her dissertation titled “Figurative Sculpture and the Crafting of Identity in Postwar American Art, 1960–1990.”

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