Alice Walton, the heiress daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton, is bringing her immense connection of American art to Arkansas. She is opening the new 217,000-square-foot Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art this Friday, on November 11. The public opening of the museum will take place in downtown Bentonville, which is the headquarters of Walmart, concurrent with national Veterans Day observances, beginning at 11 a.m.

Alice Walton, the 62-year-old billionaire heiress, splits her time between Bentonville and her Texas ranch.

“Alice Walton could have chosen to go anywhere in the world with her museum but she gave the city of Bentonville a gift,” Mayor Bob McCaslin has stated.

All are invited to join in the morning’s program, which is free and open to the public. From 10:30 to 11 a.m., the Bentonville High School Choir will entertain those assembled in the square. At 11 a.m., a lone piper, Harriett Sisson, will open the observances from the Benton County Courthouse steps with “Amazing Grace,” followed by comments by H.D. McCarty, Brigadier General of the US Air Force / Reserves / Air Guard (retired). The celebration will feature the voice talents of two Grammy-Award-winning singers: soprano Leona Mitchell, and singer and composer Joanne Shenandoah.

Following the Veterans Day observance, a celebration of the public opening of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art will commence with Crystal Bridges Executive Director Don Bacigalupi. The program will include comments by museum founder and Board Chair, Alice Walton; and Crystal Bridges designer, the world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie. In addition, former President and Arkansas Governor William Jefferson Clinton will give a brief video greeting in honor of the museum’s opening.

“The museum staff have been overwhelmed at the enthusiasm and support our community has shown for Crystal Bridges,” said Bacigalupi. “We are delighted to be able to share this exciting moment with all those who have been so eagerly anticipating the museum’s opening.”

Following the public celebration on the square, Crystal Bridges will open its doors at 12:30 p.m. to the first set of timed-ticket-holders. Thanks support from Walmart, admission is sponsored for all visitors; however, a reserved ticket will be necessary for museum entry through Jan. 2, 2012. All tickets for opening day have been booked, but spaces are still available for Saturday and Sunday of opening weekend, and beyond.

“We look forward to sharing our wonderful collection of American masterworks with all of Northwest Arkansas and the nation over the next weeks, months, and years,” Bacigalupi said. “Our goal is to touch the lives of everyone in our region through exhibitions of works in our collection, as well as educational programs and social events. We hope everyone will come visit Crystal Bridges and enjoy our collection again and again.”

Timed tickets are available for entry at half-hour intervals from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day except Tuesday, when the museum is closed. The museum is open until 9 p.m. on Wednesdays and Fridays. All visitors, age one and up, will need a reserved ticket to enter the museum. Infants need not be ticketed. Visitors should plan to arrive 30 minutes prior to the entry time on the ticket.

Additional information about Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is available online at