Olivia Walton assumes board leadership role at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

by Paul Gatling ([email protected]) 3,462 views 

Olivia Walton

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art announced Tuesday (Nov. 16) that Olivia Walton is the new chairperson of the museum’s board of directors.

Since the Bentonville museum’s opening in November 2011, founder Alice Walton, the daughter of Walmart founders Sam and Helen Walton, has held the chairperson role. According to a news release, which termed the leadership transition as looking to the future, she will move into a board member position.

“I’m delighted to have Olivia step into this leadership role,” Alice Walton, 72, said in a statement. “Over the past several years, I’ve founded new organizations focused on the arts as well as health and well-being, and I’d like to focus more fully on my board chair roles at these entities.

“Olivia and I have worked together closely for the past several years. Not only does she have a lifelong interest in and passion for the arts, but she has also gained significant experience through her leadership of the Momentary as well as serving as a Crystal Bridges board member.

“She’ll be an excellent leader of the museum’s board and will capably guide Crystal Bridges into its next decade.”

Olivia Walton joined the Crystal Bridges board in 2019. In 2020, she guided the opening of the Momentary, the museum’s satellite contemporary arts organization, as co-founder and chair of the Momentary council.

According to the news release, she will continue as chair of the Momentary in addition to her new role as chairperson of the Crystal Bridges board. She’s also a co-founder of the Heartland Summit.

“I am a big believer in Alice’s vision to create access for all and to welcome all,” Olivia Walton said. “I’m excited to continue our work to expand our physical space, expand our definition of art, and ensure that visitors feel a sense of belonging at both Crystal Bridges and the Momentary.”

Since opening in 2011, Crystal Bridges has welcomed more than five million people and is in the early stages of an expansion to add 100,000 square feet to the 200,000 museum. The work is expected to be completed in 2024.

Olivia Walton is married to Tom Walton, a grandson of Sam and Helen Walton. Until 2016, she was a journalist and was the business and technology correspondent for NBC News, reporting for “Today,” “Nightly News with Lester Holt” and MSNBC. Before joining NBC, she was a reporter and anchor for Bloomberg Television in New York and London.

Walton earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her master’s degree from the London School of Economics.