U.S. heiress brings art to Middle America

Wed Nov 9, 2011 10:28am EST
 
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By Suzi Parker

BENTONVILLE, Ark (Reuters) - The heiress daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton is bringing art to Middle America when she opens a new museum this week featuring an immense collection of American art.

The 217,000-square-foot Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art will be located in the small town of Bentonville in northwest Arkansas, which is the headquarters of Wal-Mart.

Alice Walton, the 62-year-old billionaire heiress splits her time between Bentonville and her Texas ranch.

"Alice Walton could have chosen to go anywhere in the world with her museum but she gave the city of Bentonville a gift," Mayor Bob McCaslin told Reuters.

The museum's 12 spacious galleries will house more than 400 pieces of art.

"You walk through history as you would through the art, as it is told chronologically," said David Houston, director of curatorial for the museum. "It tells American history from wars to peaceful times through art themes such as landscapes, mythology, portraits and even sculpture."

Boston architect Moshe Safdie designed the museum, a wood and glass creation of bridges nestled in 120-acres of woodlands.

"Many of the people who will visit may have never been to a major museum," said Houston. "We wanted to make it accessible to people with large, open spaces, have simple information about the art and for the museum to have a focus, which is the story of America."   Continued...