THE MUSEUM THAT WAL-MART BUILT: Heiress Alice Walton's Paean To Art Opens Tomorrow

crystal bridges museum walmart

Photo: Crystal Bridges Museum

Tomorrow is opening day at Crystal Bridges Art Museum, the American art museum in Bentonville, Arkansas that was founded and funded by Alice Walton, billionaire heir to the vast Wal-Mart fortune.Walton, an avid art collector, has amassed a significant collection over the course of her lifetime. But instead of displaying them at one of the nation’s established art museums, she decided to build her own gallery in Bentonville, where Wal-Mart is headquartered.

The museum, designed by architect Moshe Safdie, is considered to be the nation’s most important art museum in a generation. And, funded by an $800 million endowment from Walton, it’s also one of the country’s wealthiest.

While it’s not known what the 201,000-square-foot space, with numerous galleries adjoined by bridges, cost to build, patrons will be spared the $10 admission thanks to a $20 million donation from Wal-Mart.

The inaugural exhibit, called “Celebrating the American Spirit,” will feature portraits and paintings that connote significant moments in the nation’s development, according to the Huffington Post.

This is what the museum looks like from above. Galleries are housed in bridges that span ponds on the property.

At night, the striated roofs let light peek through.

The galleries will hold some 440 works, and 800 more will remain in storage.

The museum is a 10-minute walk from downtown Bentonville.

It's built on a 120-acre plot that has belonged to the Walton family for years.

Foreign visitors will have to fly into Tulsa, the closest international airport, which is 2 hours from Bentonville.

Now, some images from the final phases of construction. Copper domes top the galleries.

An interior view of the Great Hall, looking north toward the museum's restaurant, during the final phase of construction.

The inside of the restaurant, called Eleven.

Diners will be able to see galleries, ponds and pavilions from their seats at the restaurant.

Gallery space looks out onto the natural landscape.

Another gallery, ready to be filled with art.

The final stage of construction of the museum's courtyard. It will eventually house a sculpture.

Crystal Bridges has some major competition

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