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 own." 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 annually. "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 http://www.CrystalBridges.org.
SOURCE Walton Family Foundation