Crystal Bridges Tops List of 2011 Business Stories in Arkansas

As 2011 prepares to exit the stage, it leaves having put on one heck of a show.

From the opening of a world-renowned art museum in Bentonville to a ponzi scheme for the ages, and yes, even big sports news, 2011 had something for everyone...   

No. 1
Crystal Bridges Museum Opens

After six-and-a-half years of buildup, the question was, could Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art live up to the hype?

We learned the answer on Nov. 11, the day the Bentonville institution opened: A resounding "yes."

Alice Walton, only daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, announced plans for the museum in May 2005, soon after news reports revealed she had paid what was thought to be more than $35 million for "Kindred Spirits," an Asher B. Durand painting, from the New York Public Library.

At the time, Crystal Bridges was projected to cost $50 million, come in at 100,000 SF and open in 2009. The museum, designed by famed architect Moshe Safdie, eventually encompassed 201,000 SF, cost something north of $150 million and opened in 2011.

Decried, mostly in the big-city Eastern press, as a "culture vulture" seeking to snap up American masterworks only to display them in the hinterlands of Arkansas, Walton ignored her critics and, with the multimillion-dollar support of the Walton Family Foundation, continued her art-shopping spree.

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Click to read the full cover story on Crystal Bridges and the rest of the year's Top 10 stories.