June 15, 2005
Image Courtesy Walton Foundation/
© Moshe Safdie & Associates
Wal-Mart is known for many things, but
high culture is not chief among them. It may come as a surprise,
then, that the heirs of the Walton family, led by Sam Waltons
daughter Alice, are building a sophisticated museum complex
in their headquarters of Bentonville, Arkansas.
Called Crystal Bridges, after a pair
of glazed galleries that will traverse a man-made lake, the
museum will be devoted to American art. It is being designed
by Moshe Safdie & Associates of Boston with landscape
design by Peter Walker & Partners of Berkeley, California.
Linked by a series of trails in a 100-acre wooded park, the
100,000 square-foot museum will be accessible via a fifteen-minute
walk from downtown Bentonville. It will consist of a series
of buildings with distinctive ribbed and glazed roofs offering
views of treetops and sky. I want to create an experience
of viewing art in nature, says Safdie. Breaking
up the spaces creates a network of indoor and outdoor areas,
so the visitor never loses sight of the landscape.
Alice Walton made news recently by acquiring
a Charles Wilson Peale portrait of George Washington and a
Hudson River School landscape by Arthur Durand known as Kindred
Spirits from the New York Public Library. These will
be signature pieces of the Museums collection.