Wal-Mart heiress backs hometown art museum
Alice Walton, daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, unveiled plans in May for a $50 million art museum and cultural center to be built within walking distance of downtown Bentonville, Ark., long-time home of the mega-retailer.
Boston-based architect Moshe Safdie designed the Crystal Bridges museum, named for its dual glass-and-wood bridges that span a local spring-fed stream. The bridges will also act as dams, forming two ponds, and will link a collection of structures nestled into the steeply sloping terrain on each side of the stream.
Situated on 100 acres donated by the Walton family, the 100,000-sf museum will house galleries, a library, a 250-seat lecture hall, classrooms, and administrative offices. Sculpture gardens, walking trails, and outdoor areas for concerts and public events will interweave the museum buildings, which will showcase Alice Walton's collection of paintings and sculptures by American artists from the American Revolution to the modern era.
Safdie is concurrently developing city planning recommendations for Bentonville to accommodate an anticipated increase in tourism and economic investment. The museum is expected to draw 250,000 visitors annually.
Bob Workman, former deputy director of the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, will oversee the development of Crystal Bridges, which is expected to break ground mid-2006 and open in May 2009.