Walton Family Foundation Announces Plans to Build Major Museum Featuring American Art

'Crystal Bridges' to Anchor Regional Economic Development

CONTACT: Fred Lindeberg

703-861-3116 (cell)

Genevieve Hernandez


May 23, 2005, 01:00 ET from Walton Family Foundation

    BENTONVILLE, Ark., May 23 /PRNewswire/ -- Joined by a world-renowned
 architect, art historian, landscape designer, and dignitaries from around the
 state, the Walton Family Foundation today unveiled the design of a major new
 art museum and cultural center to be built within walking distance of the
 Bentonville town square.
     The museum, Crystal Bridges, takes its name from an inspired glass-and-
 wood design that traverses a local spring-fed stream.  Designed by Boston-
 based architect Moshe Safdie, the museum is expected to open in May 2009 and
 will present perspectives on the flow of America's history and heritage
 through the eyes of the nation's most influential artists.
     During a press conference, Alice Walton, daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam
 Walton, said, "Crystal Bridges is a wonderful way to build appreciation for
 America's artistic heritage and create cultural opportunities here in
 Northwest Arkansas."
     The museum will house a permanent collection of masterworks from American
 artists along with galleries dedicated to Native American and regional art and
 artists.  In addition, temporary exhibitions drawn from national institutions
 will be displayed in the museum.  A dynamic temporary exhibitions program will
 complement the holdings of the permanent collection.  The permanent
 collection, assembled by Alice Walton and the Walton Family Foundation, is
 composed of paintings and sculptures by American artists from the
 Revolutionary period through the modern era.
     The innovative museum design includes plans for approximately 100,000
 square feet of gallery, library, meeting and office space.  Crystal Bridges
 will house a 250-seat indoor auditorium, areas for outdoor concerts and public
 events, gallery rooms suitable for large receptions, as well as sculpture
 gardens and walking trails.
     "We are striving to create a community place that inspires and draws
 people together," said Mr. Safdie.  "Bentonville is a friendly, close knit
 town that can grow in a very special way by having a major cultural resource
 within walking distance of the main square."
     The museum will be built on 100 acres of scenic woodland donated by the
 Walton Family.  Internationally recognized landscape architect Peter Walker
 designed trails and paths linking downtown Bentonville and area neighborhoods
 with the planned museum and cultural center.
     "Crystal Bridges has a wonderful potential to foster connections among
 people, and with art and nature, and to build a new sense of community," said
 Peter Walker.  "It's a beautiful property that will be an attraction on its
     The museum's permanent collection will include numerous notable paintings,
 including:  portraitist Charles Willson Peale's 18th century painting of a
 confident George Washington completed near the end of the Revolutionary War,
 and Hudson River School masterwork "Kindred Spirits" by Asher B. Durand.
 Other artists and works represented include Charles Bird King's early 19th
 century portraits of American Indian leaders; Winslow Homer's depictions of
 the interplay between man and nature; Eastman Johnson's insights into rural
 19th century America; and Edward Hopper's interpretations of urban reality.
     "This still-growing collection captures the sweep of America's heritage
 through the eyes of its greatest artists," said John Wilmerding, the
 Christopher Sarofim '86 Professor in American Art at Princeton University, and
 an advisor to the Museum.  "Art lovers of every stripe, from professionals to
 enthusiasts to youngsters, are in for a real treat."
     Moshe Safdie is also developing recommendations for city planning in
 Bentonville, to accommodate an anticipated increase in tourism and economic
 investment.  The estimated cost of the building and grounds is expected to
 exceed $50 million, and is expected to draw upwards of 250,000 visitors
     "We hope that Crystal Bridges will spark a new phase of economic
 development of Bentonville and the region," said Ms. Walton.  "I'm honored to
 be able to make this announcement today, because I know my father would have
 been very proud of what we're proposing."
     A major focus of the institution will be the creation of learning
 opportunities for K-12 students in the region.  Resources will be dedicated
 toward the development of student and scholar programs, including dedicated
 tour staff, art curriculum, remote learning facilities and a significant art
 library and research center.
     The Walton Family Foundation also announced that Bob Workman, formerly
 Deputy Director of the Amon Carter Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, has been hired
 as Project Director.  Workman will oversee the development of Crystal Bridges;
 construction is expected to begin in mid-2006.
     The Crystal Bridges Web site was also launched on Monday in conjunction
 with the museum announcement.  The site can be visited at

SOURCE Walton Family Foundation