The Crystal Bridges Museum is set to officially open on Friday, Nov. 11 in Bentonville, Ark.

The $1.4 billion American art museum was funded by Wal-Mart heiress and philanthropist Alice Walton. At 201,000 sq. ft., Crystal Bridges has 12 art galleries spread through 4 buildings nestled in a forest landscape on property long-owned by the Walton family. World-renowned architect Moshe Safdie designed the campus.

All told, nearly 450 pieces of original American artwork spanning 5 centuries of artists can be found, but as many as 1,000 pieces may actually be held by the museum. The artwork is divided into four areas: Colonial, 19th Century, Modern and Contemporary.

Tourism officials are expecting Crystal Bridges to draw as many as 250,000 visitors to the region annually.  For many, access to the museum was boosted by a $20 million commitment from Wal-Mart to the museum’s Next Generation Fund, which will cover costs for admission and educational programs. On Thursday (Nov. 10), Lowell-based J.B. Hunt Transportation dedicated $1 million to the fund.

We invite you to explore several of our content partners that are offering glimpses of the new museum attraction. From AY magazine:

The mission of Crystal Bridges, founded by philanthropist Alice Walton, daughter of late Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, is one of patriotism and pride and is founded in a love for art and education: to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of landscape … to explore the unfolding of America by actively collecting, exhibiting, interpreting and preserving outstanding works that illuminate our heritage and artistic possibilities.

AY talks to several of the museum’s key personnel, who share their thoughts on different aspects of the museum and its offerings. The City Wire received an advanced tour of the museum on Thursday:

During the last decade, the creation of the world-class museum has been kept secret as anonymous art auctions buys and purchases through special donor relationships have helped amass a collection “north of 1,000 pieces,” according to  museum director Don Bacigalupi. Adding to the collection are several of the most important pieces from the lifetime personal collections of Alice Walton.

On Friday at 11 a.m., a dedication ceremony on the Bentonville Square will take place, which KUAF will live-broadcast. You can view the museum’s web site at this link.

(Asher Brown Durand’s 1849 classic, Kindred Spirits, is at Crystal Bridges.)

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Roby Brock
Roby Brock is the Editor-in-Chief and Host of Talk Business & Politics. He can be reached by e-mail at Roby@TalkBusiness.net. Follow him on Twitter: @RobyBrock.