Walmart’s Art Museum

Walmart, in the art museum business?  It’s true, somewhat shocking, and quite surprising.  Alice Walton, the daughter of Wal-Mart’s founder Sam Walton, is in charge of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.  Ms. Walton has already donated over $300 million to the construction of the Museum.

Bentonville, Arkansas is located in the south central region of the United States.  It’s also known as the Ozark Plateau and the corporate headquarters for Walmart.  Bentonville has a population close to 37,000 and I grew up in a town similar in size.  It’s small enough where everyone knows everyone and everything.  This is a world-class investment in small town America.  It will be interesting to see if tourist traffic will increase once the museum opens.

The museum will feature only American artists and has already accumulated almost $500 million dollars in art.  Alice Walton’s family has recently pledged $800 million dollars to the museum.  According to Forbes magazine: “Alice, the daughter of  Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, ranks #21 on the FORBES World Billionaire List and is the 9th richest American with a net worth of $21.2 billion.”

Featured artists in the museum include: George Bellows, Winslow Homer, Romare Bearden, Norman Rockwell, Thomas Eakins, Roy Lichtenstein, Wayne Thiebaud, Kerry James Marshall, Maxfield Parrish, Kara Walker, Mark di Suvero, Alison Elizabeth Taylor, James Turrell, Marisol, Andy Warhol, Thomas Hart Benton, William Merritt Chase, Maria Oakey Dewing, Max Weber, John Singer Sargent, John Singleton Copley, and many others.

Overall, the museum seems to be a huge undertaking with an impressive list and survey of American artists.  It’s hard to comprehend the amount of money invested so far and what will be the final price tag.  However, celebrating American artists and preserving them for future generations is a priceless endeavor.  The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is slated to open November 11th, 2011.

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