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Crystal Bridges Museum Announces $800-Million Walton Endowment; My Sneak-Peak Video at Construction Site

Did Don Bacigalupi just say $800 MILLION???

At a press luncheon today at the in-construction Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, its director announced that the Walton Family Foundation would be donating $350 million towards the institution’s operating endowment (defraying $14 million of

the $16-20 million annual operating budgetat a 4% fixed draw-down rate); $325 million towards the acquisitions endowment (generating $13 million annually for art purchases); and $125 million towards a capital-improvements endowment.

And that $800-million benefaction, courtesy of the museum’s founder and board head Alice Walton, doesn’t even include the undisclosed Walton-funded construction cost for the project nor the purchase price, to date, of the collection itself, with works that Bacigalupi later told me will be “a revelation to visitors and maybe even a revelation to people in the field” (including discoveries of little known art and artists). Some 400 works will be displayed in the inaugural installation of the collection.

Only the tip of the collection’s iceberg has been posted on the museum’s website. For example, no Abstract Expressionist works appear there, but Bacigalupi, whose specialty is contemporary art, indicated to me that there would be major examples in the permanent collection galleries.

Bacigalupi revealed to the gathered journalists that Alice’s megabucks will be supplemented by a number of other private and corporate donations. (Details to be announced in July.)

Over the past two days, I’ve been perusing the sprawling construction site that, six months from now, will open as the Crystal Bridges Museum. I will have much to tell you, art-lings, after I return home.

But for now, have a look at the exterior, as described to me on the observation deck by Sandy Edwards, the museum’s deputy director for museum relations. (After I get home to a better video-editing program, you’ll get a detailed tour of the interior, and experience my scary ride above the site—on a boom-lift with two construction workers!)

an ArtsJournal blog