Crystal Bridges Director: Museum Eyes Opening for End of 2011, Start of 2012

Planners now have a new timeframe for the opening of Wal-Mart heiress Alice Walton's Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, which was originally scheduled to open in 2009.

Don Bacigalupi, the museum's new director, citing the complexity of the museum construction, said the museum was now aiming to open by the end of 2011 or the beginning of 2012.

Bacigalupi talks to Arkansas Business in a cover story this week about progress on the multimillion dollar museum and how its electic collection of American art is taking shape. Click here to read the full cover story.

Architect Moshe Safdie is designing the glass-and-wood building, which will feature what's described as a "series of pavilions nestled around two creek-fed ponds."

John Wilmerding, a member of the project's board of directors, said, "It's like building a darn airplane terminal out in the wilderness. It's a huge architectural project."

Alice Walton, he said, "very much has wanted, as you know, a building that will exist in nature not just plunked onto it. And to achieve that, I believe there have been serious cost overruns. I think everything is now on track and in control."

As with the art collection, museum officials say next-to-nothing about the cost of the structure. But Crystal Bridges' latest report to the IRS, for 2008, notes payment of $23.3 million to Linbeck-Nabholz Joint Venture Co. Inc., the contractor, and $4.2 million to Moshe Safdie & Associates. And it puts the total fair market value of land, buildings and equipment at $70 million.

More: Crystal Bridges Collection Takes Turn Toward the Modern