The Walton Family Foundation set up by the owners of American retail giant Walmart have gifted $10 million to the National Gallery of Art in the US capital Washington to honour the legacy of art scholar John Wilmerding. He is a trustee at the museum and the gift will establish the John Wilmerding Fund for Education in American Art supporting internships, initiatives and programs at the institution.
The grant coincides with the National Gallery of Art’s 75th anniversary in 2016.
“John is one of the nation’s pre-eminent American art scholars and was our senior curator of American art, and in 2004 he promised his renowned collection of 19th-century American paintings. The Wilmerding Fund will significantly strengthen the Gallery’s efforts to engage our visitors and expand our reach to new audiences in educating them about this country’s rich artistic heritage,” said Earl A. Powell III, director of National Gallery of Art. “The Gallery extends its deep gratitude to Alice Walton and the Walton Family Foundation for this remarkable tribute to John Wilmerding and his distinguished service to the nation.”
“Through John’s efforts at the National Gallery of Art, there has been a renewed interest in American artists and their work,” said Alice Walton a Walton Family Foundation board member. “The contributions he has made have reached countless visitors at the Gallery, and it is my hope that through this fund, a new generation will be inspired to appreciate – and create – American art.”
Among the new events that will be supported by the Wilmerding Fund will be an annual John Wilmerding symposium and a community celebration. The inaugural Wilmerding symposium will be held on 22 October this year. The symposium will feature a group of distinguished scholars who will speak on a topic related to American art.