Crystal Bridges announces Van Cliburn piano gift, dedication concert

Van Cliburn, 1966 / CC 3.0

Crystal Bridges officials this week announced the museum has received a gift of a Steinway concert grand piano that belonged to internationally-acclaimed pianist Van Cliburn.

The gift comes from Thomas Smith, Cliburn’s longtime partner.

The museum will host an Oct. 9 dedication event showcasing the piano with a concert by Olga Kern, winner of the Gold Medal at the 2001 Van Cliburn Competition. Kern was the first woman that year to win the competition in more than three decades.

“We are honored to provide a home for one of the world’s most storied pianos,” said Rod Bigelow, the museum’s executive director. “And we’re excited to share this piece of history with our visitors through the dedication concert. Set against the backdrop of this beautiful Museum that reflects and defines American culture, the performance celebrates the gift with one of this generation’s brightest talents.”

From a news release:

Mr. Cliburn performed for every President of the United States since Harry Truman and for royalty and heads of state in Europe, Asia, and South America. He has received Kennedy Center Honors and the Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award. In a 2004 Kremlin ceremony he received the Order of Friendship from President Vladimir Putin, and in 2003 President George W. Bush bestowed upon him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a ceremony at the White House. President Barack Obama honored Mr. Cliburn with the National Medal of Arts in a 2011 White House ceremony.

Tickets to the concert are $50 and can be reserved online or with the museum’s guest services department beginning at 9 a.m. Friday, Aug. 12. Crystal Bridges members can purchase early access tickets now for $40 by calling the member priority line at 479-418-5728 or visitng