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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Deputy Director for Art and Education to Step Down

Matt Dawson, Deputy Director for Art and Education and a member of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art’s senior management team, will step down from his post April 12 to pursue other opportunities in the museum field.

“As the Museum continues our transition from opening to operational mode, we anticipated there would inevitably be some changes with which to contend. One of those changes will be the departure of Matt Dawson as our deputy director of art and education,” said Executive Director Don Bacigalupi when he announced Dawson’s decision to return to Toronto.

Dawson was hired in March of 2011 to lead the curatorial, education, collections and library teams. During his tenure at Crystal Bridges, he played a central and critical role in the launch of the Museum, by planning and executing the inaugural gallery installations, the design and implementation of the Experience Art Studio, and the coordination of the library and art collections’ move into the new facility.

“His leadership, organization, design capabilities and teamwork allowed us to exceed all expectations for our opening,” Bacigalupi said. “Matt’s good humor and presence will be missed at Crystal Bridges, and we wish him and his family all the best in the future. As a part of the Crystal Bridges inaugural team his contributions will remain a part of our foundation.”

“It has been an honor working for this great museum during these twelve months of remarkable change,” Dawson said. “With attendance already passing 250,000, it’s clear that you all have a winner on your hands.”

Dawson has more than 20 years of experience in architecture and museum management. He came to Crystal Bridges after opening the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix where he had served as senior project manager during the construction phase and then director of public programs and guest experience upon its opening. Dawson holds a master’s degree in architecture from Princeton University and a bachelor’s degree in history from Middlebury College in Vermont.

Director of Curatorial David Houston and Director of Education Niki Stewart will continue to lead their respective divisions.

Crystal Bridges was founded in 2005 by the Walton Family Foundation and Alice Walton, who chairs the board of directors. The museum takes its name from a nearby natural spring and the bridges incorporated into the building’s design by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie. More than 400 works of art are on view inside galleries housed within a series of pavilions nestled around two spring-fed ponds. Guest amenities include a restaurant on a glass-enclosed bridge overlooking the ponds and a Marlon Blackwell-designed museum store. Sculpture and walking trails link the Museum’s 120-acre park and gardens to downtown Bentonville, Arkansas.

Crystal Bridges will continue to grow its collection through the efforts of its professional staff as well as through important gifts from private collectors. The permanent collection, which is on view year-round, will be further enhanced by an array of ongoing temporary exhibitions. –

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