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Monday, May 30, 2005

Walton Unveils Museum Plans

The Arkansas Times, my new favorite source for art world news and name calling, ran a very interesting piece last week on Alice Walton's plans for her new museum in Bentonville. Here's the lede:
Wal-Mart fortune heiress Alice Walton unveiled before a throng of well-wishers and Bentonville boosters Monday the plans for her $50 million museum of American art, Crystal Bridges, an architectural wonder that upstaged the revealed works in the collection to hang there.
The piece implies that disagreement frequently exists between Walton and her advisor John Wilmerding on acquisition decisions. (Wilmerding, it has been pointed out, both advises Walton and serves as a trustee of the National Gallery of Art which made a competing bid for Asher Durand's Kindred Spirits.)

Walton's acquisitions do, indeed, sound idiosyncratic--the Durand, a Charles Willson Peale portrait of George Washington, a Norman Rockwell entitled Sick Puppy (above right), and work by Winslow Homer, among others. She is also acquiring historical American manuscripts and books. The collection, Wilmerding says, will be closed to work made after the middle of the twentieth century.

Related: Crystal Bridges is shopping for a chief curator and the new Crystal Bridges website, with photos of works in the collection.

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