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Noted: The Crystal Bridges Museum

Dec 3, 2011

by Chappell Ellison handmade and vintage goods

Set deep in the woods of Bentonville, Arkansas, the new Crystal Bridges Museum opened on November 11 to hordes of eager families. Designed by architect Moshe Safdie, the museum is a fluid blend of copper and glass, allowing the natural surroundings to permeate the interior, and surround the 440 works of American art on display. Yet despite such an idyllic description, all anyone seems to focus on is the source of the museum’s funding — as heiress to the Wal-Mart fortune, Alice Walton founded the museum on her own art collection, acquiring the rest of the catalog with her family’s millions.

To many art critics, Alice Walton is viewed as an underhanded tyrant, squirreling away art in the middle of nowhere. “Think of how the owners of the great collections in Europe and England must have felt at the beginning of the 20th century, when a lot of their art was coming into this country,” said David M. Sokol, art history professor emeritus of the University of Chicago. Regardless of the controversy, the excitement in the air is undeniable when strolling through the galleries. Many of the patrons walking into the museum have never been inside a contemporary structure, let alone had access to such major works of art. My 2-year-old niece and I discussed — or rather, babbled — the finer points of Roy Lichtenstein and John Singer Sargent. For a toddler who lives in Arkansas, such early exposure to direct art experience is a rarity.

Having visited the museum and grown up in the area, I feel personally invested; I can’t help but think if the museum were located in a major urban area, critics wouldn’t be raising such a stink. Already the town has seen growth because of Crystal Bridges — the local airport is expanding, and boutique hotels and restaurants are appearing all over Bentonville. Sling arrows all you want at Walton for her background, but many of the works she purchased came from private collections, and would’ve otherwise remained hidden from the public if not for her intervention. Criticize the museum’s unseemly wealth, but realize that, unlike so many large urban institutions that charge upwards of $25 a person, Crystal Bridges is free. Whether or not we all agree with the financial underpinnings of the museum, Crystal Bridges reminds the world of one major thing: art should not be a privilege reserved for urbanites or tourists who can afford a trip to the MoMA.

More Noted Posts | Art Category

3 Featured Comments

  • cookiechica

    cookiechica said 8 years ago Featured

    I think some art critics forget that art is not just supposed to be stashed away in some private home, or that art museums are only to be exclusively found in large metropolitan cities. There are a lot of great and not so great aspects of WalMart, so kudoes at least for something in the great, accessible art in a gorgeous setting.

  • grouphugquilts

    grouphugquilts said 8 years ago Featured

    This is something I'm always torn about...This sounds like a really wonderful, beautiful museum that is fulfilling what a museum's mission should be (at least to my mind): bringing art to the public and not just the portion of the public who can afford a museum excursion at a $20 entrance fee. I'm not so into the money coming from Wal-Mart, of course, but this is the ever present issue behind most great institutions. Have you ever taken a look at the list of sponsors at world class museums? Or even your local YMCA? Exxon, Philip Morris, etc., etc. All I can say is that I'm glad these places exist, and I'm really glad when they're free.

  • WhiteStoneDay

    WhiteStoneDay said 8 years ago Featured

    It's interesting. Here we are on Etsy, the land of handmade items, whose artisans would like everyone to shop local, shop independent, etc. And we're discussing (and I love that there's a discussion) a museum of art that's free but was funded by a place where they serve people who know the cost of everything but sometimes forget about the value and worth of those things. I'm a bit conflicted about that. But in general, I guess I feel that of course people should go see the museum. It's free. It has art, and art is important. And when people shop, they should remember that shopping at WalMart, for an awful lot of reasons, is morally and ethically, and even patriotically suspect. WalMart is going to make money anyway. Mainly off of the poor people who can now go look at art at the free museum based off the money they spent. Why not go see it? I'm glad that people are thinking and talking about it, regardless of their opinions on the subject. It's when people say that others have no right to talk about these things that I start worrying.


  • mazedasastoat

    mazedasastoat said 8 years ago

    Good for her! Seems to me Alice Walton spent some of her millions on something worthwhile for people who seem to be neglected by most "establishment" concerns. And speaking as a Brit, one of the Europeans that have apparently been somehow defrauded of our cultural heritage for this project, I have no problem with people spending their own money to buy someone else's personal possessions... putting the items on free public display is a wonderful bonus! Why is there somehow the idea that rural folks don't deserve to have access to art?

  • RivalryTime

    RivalryTime said 8 years ago

    I would love to visit the museum.

  • mylenefoster

    mylenefoster said 8 years ago

    I would love to visit! I love art for what it is and accessibility is always a plus. To share a previous private collection is noble.

  • michalshemi

    michalshemi said 8 years ago

    Thenks for intersthing reviwe

  • Parachute425

    Parachute425 said 8 years ago

    Alice has spent her money well and is sharing it - for free. Sounds like a beautiful museum in a beautiful state. Hope to see it one day.

  • Leatherworks4U

    Leatherworks4U said 8 years ago

    As a fellow Arkansawyer, I think the whole debate is overblown. This is a free country, founded on free enterprise. People are free to spend their money however they wish and wherever they wish. I don't understand why everything must have some politically correct agenda. I sometimes think people just crave the debate, regardless of the subject. There are more important concerns in this country than the great gift of great art.

  • HoneyThistle

    HoneyThistle said 8 years ago

    oh man, that building looks gorgeous! Forget those art critics, art should be for the masses.

  • pinkdixie

    pinkdixie said 8 years ago

    What a wonderful opportunity for the locals. Everyone deserves access to art.

  • KKSimpleRegalJewelry

    KKSimpleRegalJewelry said 8 years ago

    Very interesting! ~KK~

  • peshka

    peshka said 8 years ago

    I would love to get there for a visit!

  • IronsideImpastos

    IronsideImpastos said 8 years ago

    It is a stunning building and amazing collection. I am anxious for Spring when all the trails surrounding the museum will be finished as well!

  • BeatificBijoux

    BeatificBijoux said 8 years ago

    I think it's wonderful that this is located in Arkansas. What a fantastic gift to give to your community! Nothing is stopping anybody from visiting the collection, especially in light of the fact that admission is free!

  • maggiesraggedyinn

    maggiesraggedyinn said 8 years ago

    Wow.. the imagination succeeded!

  • bedouin

    bedouin said 8 years ago

    "art should not be a privilege reserved for urbanites or tourists who can afford a trip to the MoMA " Either should health care but Walmart now owns Humana.

  • VintageZen

    VintageZen said 8 years ago

    I didn't know it was free, wow! ...I think it is just amazing what she did. Amazing collection too. Don't people know art should be accessible to everyone? ...I think the controversy is so ridiculous.

  • paulaisit

    paulaisit said 8 years ago

    Please! The airport is Federally funded and when we talk about helping people grow in art appreciation in the area...consider the benefits of the Walmart workers were cut back at the same time that this monument was constructed. Who wins and who looses... How about a painting or two less and give back the benefits to the workers that made this all possible.

  • StoneTreasures

    StoneTreasures said 8 years ago

    Thank you so much for taking a positive stance for the existence of the only new museum in America in decades! It is truly a work of art in itself! We Arkansans are very proud of the Waltons' achievements.....they are not criminals...but are great philanthropists and one bad apple should not spoil the whole. To have these great works of art in a free museum in Mid-America makes it accessible to everyone!

  • FranceGallery

    FranceGallery said 8 years ago

    It is great to hear of this wonderful and free art museum!

  • uniquefabricgifts

    uniquefabricgifts said 8 years ago

    Everyone deserves access to museums and art, specially young children. Exposure to art at a young age makes their imagination grow and to appreciate the real beauty in life later on.

  • RetroRevivalBoutique

    RetroRevivalBoutique said 8 years ago

    The Crystal Bridges museum is now officially on my list of places to visit someday! ^__^

  • easasa

    easasa said 8 years ago

    Great article!

  • Iammie

    Iammie said 8 years ago

    Great article! :)

  • simpledream2

    simpledream2 said 8 years ago

    That sounds like an awesome day trip from where I live. Whenever I have friends/family come to visit I like to show them the mills of the Ozarks, the quaint town of Hardy, AR and now I'll map out a visit to Bentonville for some culture. Thanks for the point of interest.

  • cookiechica

    cookiechica said 8 years ago Featured

    I think some art critics forget that art is not just supposed to be stashed away in some private home, or that art museums are only to be exclusively found in large metropolitan cities. There are a lot of great and not so great aspects of WalMart, so kudoes at least for something in the great, accessible art in a gorgeous setting.

  • bstudio

    bstudio said 8 years ago

    I saw a review of this museum and an interview with Alice Walton on the CBS News Sunday Morning show a few weeks back. I was mightily impressed with her, the amazing collection she has put together and beautiful art museum she has so graciously contributed to the state of Arkansas! I am really looking forward to visiting some day!

  • TresChicNmodern

    TresChicNmodern said 8 years ago


  • WeThreeTrees

    WeThreeTrees said 8 years ago

    I think this is so awesome. Art museum, for FREE. YES. Everyone should have the access to view amazing works of art. I have some very fond memories visiting art museums in Chicago, and Indianapolis. But I know not everyone is able to visit big cities, or even shell out a lot of cash to go to museums. I had a pleasant surprise in Chicago on Thursday, the Children's Museum at Navy Pier was free from 5-8 pm! My children had a GREAT time and it was free. I was so appreciative of the corporations who made that possible. :) What a gift.

  • ITakePictures

    ITakePictures said 8 years ago

    Interesting....... Alice Walton built a museum…. which is what wealthy people do when their collection outgrows the house. It is also a dandy tax write-off. Consider this, Alice Walton heir to the Walmart fortune is worth in the neighborhood of $ 20.9 BILLION. The value of the building, trust and endowment of her museum is around $1 BILLION. The average Walmart employee earns between $8.75 and $11.75 an hour. Maybe some of that money should be used to give the folks who work for her and made her rich beyond imagining a raise. Then a few of them could afford to take the bus to Bentonville and tour her collection. After all, it’s free.

  • IowaGardenGallery

    IowaGardenGallery said 8 years ago

    Thanks for sharing this with us. As an art historian, I loved the whole idea of a gallery dedicated to artworks from America. The news kept listing all the other venues of interest in and around the Bentonville area that everyone could visit as well as the museum and I kept saying 'The museum is enough. Wow!'

  • zenceramics

    zenceramics said 8 years ago

    I love your blog Chappell. You are a prolific writer and you write about controversial, very interesting stories. I grew up in a cultural center of Russia and used to be a Marketing Director of a Museum of History of St. Petersburg Russia, ( Peter and Paul Fortress), third tourist attraction in the country which was free to the public at that time. But this is not my point. It is pathetic that someone would criticize such a wonderful Nobel act of Alice Walton, the founder of the museum. No one has a right to tell her where to build a museum and exhibit her art collection because she paid for it and DONATED museum to the public especially considering it is FREE. Of course, there will be very little tourist traffic compared to The Art Institute in Chicago, but people who live in the region and people like you who grew up in the area will take a trip and visit the museum and enjoy the beauty of the art and integration of the museum into the nature. Thank you again for your great story.

  • HomeStudio

    HomeStudio said 8 years ago

    Would love to visit this! Thanks!

  • theroyal

    theroyal said 8 years ago

    thats lame to say someone is squirreling away art in the middle of nowhere. i think it is a nice idea that people who could never make it to new york or a comparable big city are not deprived of the opportunity to be exposed to some culture...

  • ChristinaRomeo

    ChristinaRomeo said 8 years ago

    So awesome!! I would love to see in person one day, thanks so much for sharing.

  • raspberrytigers

    raspberrytigers said 8 years ago

    yay arkansas

  • theroyal

    theroyal said 8 years ago

    but i still have a hard time defending the actions of walmart.

  • TravelingChariot

    TravelingChariot said 8 years ago

    Well Put Chappell. I'd rather Wal-Mart fortunes be spent on such endeavors instead of the rich just getting richer. It's nice to see someone give so much back. It shocks me that it is free. A wonderfully suprising shock.

  • quirkyshop

    quirkyshop said 8 years ago


  • BroccoliHouse

    BroccoliHouse said 8 years ago

    Great Article =)

  • grouphugquilts

    grouphugquilts said 8 years ago Featured

    This is something I'm always torn about...This sounds like a really wonderful, beautiful museum that is fulfilling what a museum's mission should be (at least to my mind): bringing art to the public and not just the portion of the public who can afford a museum excursion at a $20 entrance fee. I'm not so into the money coming from Wal-Mart, of course, but this is the ever present issue behind most great institutions. Have you ever taken a look at the list of sponsors at world class museums? Or even your local YMCA? Exxon, Philip Morris, etc., etc. All I can say is that I'm glad these places exist, and I'm really glad when they're free.

  • RedorGrayArt

    RedorGrayArt said 8 years ago

    looks and sounds like a lovely spot!!

  • Mclovebuddy

    Mclovebuddy said 8 years ago

    walmart as a business destroyed small town america and their business practices past and present are really not the best including how they treat their own employees. though the museum was built due to that wealth, it really is its own separate entity and people's judgement should be based on the merits of the museum not the pedigree of its builder. people are put off by how the waltons became so wealthy and they have a right to it, but if one of them actually does something worthwhile for the community and art with genuine interest and concern that should stand on its own.

  • Verdurebydesign

    Verdurebydesign said 8 years ago

    In my home state of Tasmania, Australia we have a privately funded museum called Mona This generosity has given us the chance to experience art that we would not have otherwise had.

  • SandJPaperandWood

    SandJPaperandWood said 8 years ago

    Proud to be from Arkansas!

  • EndQuotes

    EndQuotes said 8 years ago

    Thanks for writing about this museum- sounds like a wonderful opportunity for the people of Arkansas.

  • MerCurios

    MerCurios said 8 years ago

    " should not be a privilege reserved for urbanites or tourists who can afford a trip to the MoMA" Enough said. :)

  • KatoAndLali

    KatoAndLali said 8 years ago

    I think this museum is sounds great! Glad the Wal-mart family is giving back, especially to the art scene! I hope to visit it some day!

  • itselemental

    itselemental said 8 years ago

    Even the most beautiful of flowers will spring forth from cow poop... and Mother Theresa accepted donations from shady characters, for the common good... good for Bentonville!! Always enjoy your articles, Chappell.

  • itselemental

    itselemental said 8 years ago

    ...and shame on the "art critics" for thinking that art should not be "squirreled away in the middle of nowhere." I'll bet the people who live in the middle of nowhere don't share that sentiment.

  • bestlovedchild

    bestlovedchild said 8 years ago

    As an Arkansan (though from the Little Rock area) this has been a much anticipated opening. The fact that it's free has been huge news. Can't wait to make a day trip.

  • justbuyin

    justbuyin said 8 years ago

    I think that what was meant by 'squirreled away' is those who collect it and keep it away from public display.

  • beadstylin

    beadstylin said 8 years ago

    There almost seems to be, in the author's tone, a bit of embarrassment that this gallery is in Arkansas. I feel sorry for anyone from Arkansas; they have had their fair share of jokes. Hurray for the Midwest!

  • OnlyOriginalsByAJ

    OnlyOriginalsByAJ said 8 years ago

    Looks amazing! Thanks for sharing!

  • beadstylin

    beadstylin said 8 years ago

    Allow me to revise please: while the author is proud of this being in Arkansas, I have observed in the past, others who are not proud of this state. Kudos to the author!

  • ClaudiaLord

    ClaudiaLord said 8 years ago

    I think its great to have a museum in a location other than a major city. By the way, the Indianapolis Museum of Art has free admission.

  • zoezloft

    zoezloft said 8 years ago

    Good for Alice. Crystal Bridge, what a beautiful name. I would love to go there. And everyone who has access to any museum should go. And FREE? Better yet. One thing I bet very few people know is that the bean counters at Walmart wanted to do away with the entire craft and fabric departments in their stores because they really don't make much profit. But Alice insisted that for a lot of people, Walmart is the only place they can buy craft and fabric supplies. She insisted that they stay. Way to go Alice, this crafter thanks you.

  • NiyasMagicRat

    NiyasMagicRat said 8 years ago

    This is the greatest thing that could happen, in arkansas, I grew up in bentonville and I was there when this museum was just a rumor. Art shouldn't just be for big cities. It is meant for everyone, once upon a time in fact art wasn't even something special for display only it was everywhere in grecian urns and chinese embordery, or tapestrys for castle walls. Art was apart of everyday life and wasn't something special that you had to go to a museum to see that is a very modern idea, and now there are people turning up their noses because there is a art museum in a rural community? That is so depressing, that the world has come to this, all my life growing up in arkansas a career as an artist wasn't realistic, it was thought of as silly and all the kids growing up there are subject to an unwritten idea that if you want to be an artist, you have to grow up and move away, which is what I had to do because there is no theatre there. This museum is a step in the right direction, maybe one day young kids who need art in their lives wont have to move away to pursue their dreams. Also why should it always be that people in the rurual communities have to go to big cities to see fancy museums, now the situation is reversed and the people from the cities complain because they don't want to have to travel to see the art in crystal bridges? That is a little hypocritical, finally a small town in arkansas has some culture, and it is a great thing.

  • KristenaWitherspoon

    KristenaWitherspoon said 8 years ago

    Ahh! I was just down in LR visiting family for the holiday. I wish I'd known about this cool new museum.

  • TangledArts

    TangledArts said 8 years ago

    If Bentonville is considered by these critics to be "the middle of nowhere" they should visit Jasper

  • WhiteStoneDay

    WhiteStoneDay said 8 years ago Featured

    It's interesting. Here we are on Etsy, the land of handmade items, whose artisans would like everyone to shop local, shop independent, etc. And we're discussing (and I love that there's a discussion) a museum of art that's free but was funded by a place where they serve people who know the cost of everything but sometimes forget about the value and worth of those things. I'm a bit conflicted about that. But in general, I guess I feel that of course people should go see the museum. It's free. It has art, and art is important. And when people shop, they should remember that shopping at WalMart, for an awful lot of reasons, is morally and ethically, and even patriotically suspect. WalMart is going to make money anyway. Mainly off of the poor people who can now go look at art at the free museum based off the money they spent. Why not go see it? I'm glad that people are thinking and talking about it, regardless of their opinions on the subject. It's when people say that others have no right to talk about these things that I start worrying.

  • emwi

    emwi said 8 years ago

    This museum has always been a stop I've wanted to make. Hope someday I can visit it. Great post! I learned a lot more than I knew about the Crystal Bridges Museum.

  • jlg82

    jlg82 said 8 years ago

    I will have to take a visit there on one of my trips. I grew up in Arkansas, just not in that region. How special that she located this in Arkansas still. I hope everyone that visits finds the true importance of art.

  • BiomedDesign

    BiomedDesign said 8 years ago

    Nice review. Should visit some day.


    GLORIACASTANEDA said 8 years ago

    it is beautiful! There is so much to look at! I'm happy we finally have a place that i can go see great art in northwest arkansas. ^_^

  • tumbleweedsoddities

    tumbleweedsoddities said 8 years ago

    I am so glad to read a blog post on the Crystal Bridges Museum on etsy. We are lucky enough to have our sunglasses in their gift shop, and so happy to be part of such an incredible place! Thanks for writing this!

  • bellasparty

    bellasparty said 8 years ago

    Would love to visit this museum!

  • DelightfulWhimsical

    DelightfulWhimsical said 8 years ago

    As someone who has had the opportunity to visit some of the world’s “best” museums in both the United States and Europe, I appreciate what she has done. My first visits to museums were local, museums founded under similar circumstances in their initial founding, which helped to inspire a love of the arts in myself and many others. Even our great Smithsonian was founded with funds donated by a wealthy person for the betterment of a community that lacked access to arts and culture, so my guess is that history will treat the MUSEAUMS legacy well regardless of how it treats the legacy of the Wal-Mart Corp.

  • riverpinesart

    riverpinesart said 8 years ago

    Just put it on my "places to visit" list! Thanks for the information.

  • goredesignco

    goredesignco said 8 years ago

    I visited the Crystal Bridges Museum over Thanksgiving (I was born and raised in Bentonville) - it is an absolutely stunning space. I don't think it will be free forever, I believe the Walton Foundation purchased $9 million in tickets (or something along those lines), to give away. NW Arkansas has a lot of great architecture. From Fay Jones' "Mildred B. Cooper Chapel" in Bella Vista to works by Wendell Burnette.

  • goredesignco

    goredesignco said 8 years ago

    Sorry, I meant Marlon Blackwell ( not Wendell Burnette. I now live in Phoenix and all the architects blend together in my mind.

  • PeteandPaul

    PeteandPaul said 8 years ago

    I think it is really ignorant and selfish for people to be upset about the location of the art museum. Why does it matter that a Walmart heiress made it? She was born into wealth, at least she is doing something classy with it, unlike many of the reality TV celebrities who are famous for being rich and successfully making us lose brain cells every time we turn on the television.

  • EverythingElena

    EverythingElena said 8 years ago

    Lets face it, almost everything in history and especially art history was build by the rich, whether they were farrows, kings, aristocrats, dictators or lucky hard-working Americans that got rich or even luckier children of. Artists and artisans always needed and will need the rich to support them. I think Alice Walton did Bentonville, Arkansas a big big favor. She just made everybody in Bentonville culturally so much richer. And as Pilgrims of Art start to poor in so will the money.

  • wednesdaypaper

    wednesdaypaper said 8 years ago

    Good for Bentonville and great that it's free. I live in the SF Bay Area and have access to scores of world-class museums, but at $15-20 a pop, I wonder how many people who aren't already "culturally enriched" are actually able to partake. Art doesn't belong only to the monied, and it certainly doesn't belong only to the urban.

  • ethniquetrendy

    ethniquetrendy said 8 years ago

    would love to visit the museum

  • Powerofflower

    Powerofflower said 8 years ago

    Wonderful building!I would love to see it one day!:)

  • LostOrnithology

    LostOrnithology said 8 years ago

    I don't see what the big deal is. The Carnegie family, and the Rockefeller family along with lots of other industrialists did the same exact thing. They also amassed large amounts of wealth on the backs of the poor. I don't see anyone protesting those museums. Museums and art centers rely on a combination of funding from the government and private donations. Most museums and local art centers are heavily supported by a collection of wealthy individuals and businesses. Lots of them are built by wealthy individuals and then turned into an independent entity supported by a financial trust set up by the builder. I spent a few years working for a small successful non profit art center and gallery space. Its how the business works. If you are going to be upset at this museum then you should be upset at all of them, which would be silly. Enjoy the art, and find a better way to protest. Just don't shop at Walmart. Simple.

  • EdenSoapsandKnits

    EdenSoapsandKnits said 8 years ago

    I think this is fantastic. Critics who are upset this is in the middle of nowhere are being incredibly selfish, as if people in Arkansas don't deserve great art, too. And the free ticket price makes it even more heart warming.

  • BanglewoodSupplies

    BanglewoodSupplies said 8 years ago

    It is what it is. I am always for art having a platform because it is healing and needed to lighten up our lives and world. People would really be surprised at the ugly past and funding of most of the things and objects we hold dearly. All we really need to do is look in our closets, refrigerators, research our trust funds, our diamond rings, the gas that fills our tanks...

  • SheEarth

    SheEarth said 8 years ago

    People are generally negative about someone or something because they wish had done it or had that idea first. Everyone can still view, the art even though it is privately owned, I think that is quiet generous of her to begin with - let a lone not to charge admission. And it is bring new growth and opportunity to a new location during a time of economic uncertainty, I think some people may have forgotten how to be grateful for inspired thought.

  • gertuine

    gertuine said 8 years ago

    I can agree with what EverythingElena (and others, in a similar vein) has is a (sad, but) true statement to say that much art (I'm not personally confident enough to say "most') was commissioned or paid for or ordered by the rich, whomever they were. For example, the Sistine Chapel has that oh so famous work for it, but many might (now) decry that it was commissioned by the Catholic Church (or, the Pope I presume)...but it is of course quite detailed, elegant, and of course famous. In the end, it has been a benefit to a great many people, and in some way, let us be grateful for such. I can admit that sometimes I am a "means" person, sometimes I am an "ends" person... in this case, the (direct) means do not seem so heinous as to warrant any of my censure. I don't imagine that Alice Walton herself has been overseeing a great many things at Wal-Mart day-to-day, but..what do I know? Ultimately I, too, am glad to see art outside of a metro area! And I hope it really can always be free (but would that be possible? Where would operating costs come from?)

  • cadreams

    cadreams said 8 years ago

    Great article. I'm not sure Walmart employees come into this. It's her Art, and if she wants to share it-even better.

  • RossLab

    RossLab said 8 years ago

    It seems a great museum. I am glad it is free, unlike every other thing in the US!

  • yodasboner

    yodasboner said 8 years ago

    If there is beauty to be shown in this world, everybody anywhere, should have the opportunity to experience it.

  • mackcarolanne

    mackcarolanne said 8 years ago

    Way to go. As a college art instructor I know first hand the impact access to art can have. Free access in an otherwise underserved area fabulous,

  • ilovejim

    ilovejim said 8 years ago

    My parents and sister (and her fam) live in Fayetteville, and my mother is the Asst Director @ the Fayetteville Library - and they took a tour of the museum in Bentonville last week. And she said this on FB "It was layed out chronologically In a circle pattern and you walked from art period to art period. There are 4 reflective places (think resting places) where you can stop and sit and look at art books. There is a youth participatory art area, a good restaurant, an art library, and apparently a really cool gift shop, but didn't go to the gift shop today. Alice Walton built this." -Whether or not you like Wal-Mart, it is cool to bring art to the Midwest - it is free which is nice, but the most important thing is that kids and peeps that might not normally see this type of museum will now -- thanks to Alice Walton and all those who shop @ Wal-Mart. Too bad all communities can't have something that showcases art at it's best!

  • MissHildebrandt

    MissHildebrandt said 8 years ago

    Must go to Arkansas!

  • kbellavida

    kbellavida said 8 years ago

    As an art teacher at a title 1 school in Arkansas, I am very thankful! Not only is the museum free, but there is a sponsored field trip for the first year.

  • expoedu1

    expoedu1 said 8 years ago

    I'm so pleased to see all of the positive comments about the museum. I've lived in middle America most of my life, and it's sad to hear that there are critics who think the collection is being wasted by not being in a big city on one of the coasts. And, as others have mentioned, there are a lot of great art museums and other cultural institutions that have been started by the wealthy for the benefit of the public. I noticed several people mentioned the Indianapolis Museum of Art. It was started when the Lilly family (Eli Lilly and Company) donated the land where their home was located, and much of the collection was donated by the Lilly family and the Clowes family (Mr. Clowes was instrumental in getting insulin scaled up and available for patients). Today, the museum is free and has been doing some interesting, novel art programs that are getting attention within the art community. Sure it's in a bigger city, but we're not Chicago or NY by any stretch. I love taking "big city" people to the museum to watch as they're amazed by the quality of the collection. The Crystal Bridges museum is now on my list of things to see the next time I go back to visit family.

  • HoldTheWire

    HoldTheWire said 8 years ago

    Putting it into historical context, like LostOrnithology said means realizing that so many museums and libraries (Carnegie libraries) were set up by the "robber barons". Arkansas isn't the "middle of nowhere". If wealthy people want to go, they can afford the gas to travel there. It's wonderful for the people who live nearby.

  • muffintopdesigns

    muffintopdesigns said 8 years ago

    i feel that any sharing of artwork is a wonderful thing. yes, there is controversy over the origin of the $$$ (yeah, i know walmart is the anti-thesis of etsy) and about Ms. Walton, but despite the tax break and the negative publicity, she is opening up the world of art in a place where people might not have the opportunity to do so otherwise. if i had the means and the $$$, i would do the same. thanks, chappell!

  • purplepoppydesigns

    purplepoppydesigns said 8 years ago

    we moved to b-ville about 18 months ago and all we've heard about is crystal bridges. we have yet to visit, mostly because of hectic kids' schedules. but i'm excited to take my kids to see the art and the hands-on kids area. one of the hardest adjustments for our family in moving to nw arkansas was the lack of "big city". we love the culture of big cities and have felt the lack of restaurants, arts, and lifestyle of city living. but i am grateful, regardless of the source, that there are opportunities for culture no matter where you live. i'm also glad to see some of the local shops being started based on the trends of people coming to visit. thanks for the nwa love!

  • TinyArtbyJMullin

    TinyArtbyJMullin said 8 years ago

    I was lucky enough to visit Crystal Bridges just a few weeks ago, and my, it is stunning! The building and landscaping are truly a work of art in themselves. The museum staff are terribly welcoming and friendly, going out of their way to talk to patrons about the work they are viewing. I am in no means a Wal-Mart fan, (In fact, I avoid it at all costs) but they have created a fabulous cultural experience for Northwest Arkansas. Walking through the museum were all types of people, some well versed in art, others who have probably never stepped foot in an art institution. Alice Walton did something beautiful and noble with her money and for that she should be applauded. The museum's "Colonial Art" collection is absolutely rich and superb, while the modern and contemporary collections leave a little something to be desired. For instance, there are cubist style Rothko and Pollock paintings, not the color field and abstract expressionist works they are known for. To Walton's defense, I can imagine that in this day and age it would not be easy to collect pinnacle pieces of these art heavy hitters. Though the museum is free to visit now, they will begin charging admission fees at the beginning of the new year. So make a trip soon, and visit Fayetteville while you're at it. It's a fabulous city!

  • stephanie583

    stephanie583 said 8 years ago

    The last time I checked this was a free country. That does include what we collect and what we do with it. I have read other articles concerning the Crystal Bridges museum and I find this ludicrous. I think it is wonderful that this woman has decided to display her art in such a beautiful setting. How can anyone think that by not displaying the art in a large city it is being wasted. Don't they think that people in that part of the country can enjoy art too?? I live in the Denver colorado metro area and I plan on taking my Grandchildren next summer to visit this museum. What a beautiful trip it will be.

  • Nerual1271

    Nerual1271 said 8 years ago

    How thoughtful of this 1-percenter. She spent a little of her pocket money to take the poors' minds off the fact that her art collection was built on their backs. Walton undoubtedly also will enjoy an enormous tax break.

  • nolegirl2010

    nolegirl2010 said 8 years ago

    What a great post! I can't wait for my next trip home to visit Crystal Bridges. I can understand some of the distaste expressed in the comments here and elsewhere for the Waltons and the way they amassed their fortune through the Wal-Mart stores. But the story is always more complicated than people want it to be. Wal-Mart (and some of the other big corporations that formed around the same time) transformed Northwest Arkansas. Some of the changes were positive, some not. I am grateful to Alice Walton for building such a wonderful museum in Northwest Arkansas. The region is not a rural backwater, and, even if it were, the idea that art could ever be wasted by putting it on public display is bizarre. Alice did a good thing by sharing her collection, and she deserves credit for it.

  • june2six

    june2six said 8 years ago

    If it's free it's me ;)...I think it's great!

  • DrVintage

    DrVintage said 8 years ago

    I think this all sounds wonderful and commend Alice Walton for her generous gift of art and architecture to the city and the Northwest Arkansas region. Many collectors hoard their collections for NO ONE to see but themselves and a few chosen, so THANK YOU for sharing your passion Alice. Also THANK YOU Chappell Ellison for bringing this amazing museum to our attention...perhaps a detour will be in order during our Holiday Travels!

  • myhideaway

    myhideaway said 8 years ago

    I couldn't agree more that art shouldn't be a privilege reserved only for those who live in large cities. I happen to live in DC and feel so fortunate to have great art "outside my door," as it were. Proximity to great museums was one of the reasons I moved here years ago. But not everyone can choose to live where they please. Reading this article reminded me of Reynolda House in Winston-Salem, NC, which also has it's share of critics having been funded by big tobacco. But no one can argue that this museum will do great things for the town; look at all that's happened in Bilbao!

  • rickrackshack

    rickrackshack said 8 years ago

    WORLD's COLLIDING! I was at Crystal Bridges the day this article was published, as well as on opening day. I live here. I used to live in New York City. The fact that I can take my kids to a museum of this caliber, that people I know can work there and do what they love, to have a chance to be around great things a gift. I'm grateful.

  • Attractive1

    Attractive1 said 8 years ago

    Its not only spending money. Making culture.

  • AnaidDesigns

    AnaidDesigns said 8 years ago

    People make fun of 'backwoods' people in Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, etc. but when something amazing, cultural and educational happens there it's criticized! This is ridiculous! Congratulations Arkansas for having something amazing - use it, enjoy it and be proud! :)

  • Lynnaddison

    Lynnaddison said 8 years ago

    Art belongs everywhere, not just in major metropolitan areas. How wonderful for the people of this area to have this resource at their feet. I hope to see it one day, albeit doubtful. But think of all the people whose lives are enriched by its presence. Hurrah! Another place for art and people to grow.

  • Rebekahzl

    Rebekahzl said 8 years ago

    I'm tracking down some of the articles that articulate the "controversy" to use in a class I teach. This is a perfect example of a social class issue and the fact that the elitist mentality condescends to share "art" only when and where it deems suitable. Good for Alice, good for Arkansas!

  • Circa810

    Circa810 said 8 years ago

    Art is for everyone to enjoy be it in a large city or a small hickville town. Good point made that many of the works are from private collections where they would not be enjoyed by the public. Better to have them in Arkansas than in a Central Park Condo.

  • la29

    la29 said 8 years ago

    You should realize that the museums you mention (like MoMA) SUGGEST that you contribute $20-25 to visit. You can visit the Metropolitan for free, or a dollar, if you wish.

  • ClaudiaLord

    ClaudiaLord said 8 years ago

    If not for wealthy donors, I doubt if any private art museum anywhere would survive. (or could've survived in the past)

  • Thelittleblackbooks

    Thelittleblackbooks said 8 years ago

    It is a bit harsh on her as there is a few very rich young ladies spending their family's wealth meaninglessly, being held as role models, make tv programs about themselves showing a shocking lack of common sense and general inability to understand a little deeper than their stilettos. At least she is trying to do something useful and you can't blame someone for what their predecessors have done.

  • MyBijouxBoutique

    MyBijouxBoutique said 8 years ago

    Awesome!! We will be planning a family trip there soon. AR is just one of the most beautiful states. Very welcoming to tourists and their state park accomodations are 1st class even in the tiniest of cities. We vacation there frequently. We live in MS just across the River from AR and carry the same stigma. We are not second rate/ ignorant citizens that don't deserve or appreciate art. This region is steeped in culture and history from which art and music are born. Can't wait to see this museum!!

  • cristantecreations

    cristantecreations said 8 years ago

    thanks for sharing this. i hadn't heard about it.

  • pinksnakejewelry

    pinksnakejewelry said 8 years ago

    Great Article!! Would love to visit and see these works of Art!! I agree Art should be accessible to everyone no just those who can get to MOMA

  • kasuino

    kasuino said 8 years ago

    Fine art is classism. That is all.

  • deconstructika

    deconstructika said 8 years ago

    OK, I love that this article was written, but as someone who grew up in Arkansas I cannot at all agree with her statement that it is a rarity for a toddler in AR to have direct exposure to art! I mean, really! And now I am raising my own toddler and I can tell you that both of our childhoods have been filled with wonderful art experiences. But I am very glad that Crystal Bridges is there and hopefully we will get to go soon ( we only live a couple hours away).

  • FirstFrostJewelry

    FirstFrostJewelry said 8 years ago

    Most heiresses in the news spend their money on tasteless things. This sounds like something that can positively affect the community :) As someone who will have to save up money for a long, long time to get to see any "fine art," I think the controversy is sad. If they think their art is so important, why wouldn't they want to share it? Here in Idaho, I'll just settle for the scenery!


    ARTLOOK said 8 years ago

    Upon this gushing waterful of praise, I'd like to throw a little fire. First of all, please consider how this money was made: by Chinese children desperate for work, forced to work 15 hours a day 29 days a mon in factories making goods like tube socks and toys. Secondly, the rarely adequate pay with no health insurance of all th4 workers at Walmart for the past 40 years. Thirdly, the multitude of businesses Walmart drove out of local communities, many of which could not reestablish themselves when Walmart decamped after using up all the tax perks given it to start a business there. Fourthly, the artists' work shown there are all dead, and none directly profited from their work. I disagree with worshipping art as CULTURE. Surely the world needs beautiful things, but more importantly, it needs all people of all generations to know they are all artists, and can create beauty around them themselves, and to know the personal fulfillment that brings. From my obervations, seeing "great art", while it occasionally inspires a few, it usually makes most people feel inadequate and clumsly, when they hold the greatest treasure gift of creaating beauty every minute of their lives, whether in how they speak, sew, paint, hammer, clean, learn, cook, support, and love those around them. Putting up museums to alleviate guilt and distract others from noticing systematic exploitation is hardly a contribution to the society, as many seem to think here. Let's truly create CULTURE by encouraging the artist is each person, by love and fairness.

  • CopperheadCreations

    CopperheadCreations said 8 years ago

    Fantastic! Good for her for making a contribution to the community - and it's free to visitors!

  • itsybetsy

    itsybetsy said 8 years ago

    As a person who adopted a daughter from China, and has seen first-hand some of the misery spread around the world by the Walton family, misery that they continue to spread, unchecked and with no shame, opening a gallery to further glorify herself is nothing to cheer about. How many people have had to suffer so that you could see some art for free? Would you say that a museum founded by Ghadafi is okay because people don't have to pay to see the art? Do you think the Walton's have been responsible for less death and misery? Children who never leave factories, women employees beaten by supervisors, all this is washed clean because you get free access to some art that she bought with money wrung from the blood sweat and tears of legions of men women and children in China, India, South America, etc.? Do you think it makes up for the American towns all across the country that have been wiped off the map by WalMart's unfair and predatory business practices? There are so many towns where no one can raise a child and expect that the child will someday also raise a family there, because, thanks to WalMart, the town is empty of opportunity, unless they want to be a partial WalMart employee, partial welfare recipient. Yes, you enjoy your new museum. You enjoy it while other people watch their towns die. You enjoy it while other people live on less than a dollar a day. Wow, a fre museum. That WalMart sure is great.

  • itsybetsy

    itsybetsy said 8 years ago

    And, I just have to add, Wal MArt is the antithesis of everything Etsy stands for, respecting people's work and paying a fair price for it, buying and valuing handmade and artisans. This post is just shameful. I'm just so sad to see this here. There's really no place they cannot touch is there?

  • miascloset

    miascloset said 8 years ago

    I love itsybetsy

  • allmycreations

    allmycreations said 8 years ago

    Well said itsybitsy.

  • laplumeblanche

    laplumeblanche said 8 years ago

    Etsy - the article was disappointing indeed. Please do at least some research before posting something like this.

  • SoftCityQuilts

    SoftCityQuilts said 8 years ago

    Wow. This article makes me sick. Chappell fails to mention that the Walton fortune, and thus the Crystal Bridges museum, is built on the backs of thousands of child laborers and factory slaves in other countries, not to mention America's working poor. I'm surprised that Etsy - the antithesis of WalMart - would publish this. Disgusting.

  • itsybetsy

    itsybetsy said 8 years ago

    Yay! Keep posting folks! You are my heroes! Pass it on too. I FB-ed it. xo~

  • itsybetsy

    itsybetsy said 8 years ago

    We're also chatting-it-up here:

  • blueditty

    blueditty said 8 years ago

    The maintenance of this museum will be payed for people in the surrounding communities??? If so , then I guess they can expect some tax hikes in the near future, so again...Not free. Not to mention the tax benefits she would have gotten from the initial "donation".

  • slatevintager

    slatevintager said 8 years ago


  • MyGypsyEyes

    MyGypsyEyes said 8 years ago

    Are you sure this is something you want to endorse, Etsy? This is a short-sighted, bad move on your part, if you ask me.

  • eweandyarn

    eweandyarn said 8 years ago

    I saw my first Van Gogh in a free museum, we just didn't have the money to go and buy an expensive ticket. And so what that this museum is founded by a person who is said to be not so nice and that maybe she now has a big tax benefit, it doesn't take away from the fact that many can now enjoy contemporary art who otherwise wouldn't have and who knows what effect it will have on their lives.

  • BowerAndRoach

    BowerAndRoach said 8 years ago

    Bravo! More Art!

  • dragonhouseofyuen

    dragonhouseofyuen said 8 years ago

    well done on the article! and well done to Alice! yes, art should be free and accessible to all inspiration and beauty surround us in nature and so they should also in human society - for the price of a breath of air and some time

  • Zalavintage

    Zalavintage said 8 years ago

    As always Chappell, interesting on so many levels. Working in the fashion industry in NYC and with access to amazing museums daily, I am conflicted... I know so many good people who've lost their benefits and even some their jobs on Seventh Avenue due to WalMart's business practices, if you want to be a WalMart vendor, you must jump through hoops and then cut your price to ridiculously low sale prices, which can only be produced in the factories in China and then your company can barely survive, all to sell one dress, it's very sad what WalMart has done not only to their low paid workers, but to careers around the globe. On the other hand, look at the tycoons of the early 19th C, Carnegie opened libraries, Vanderbilts museums...Alice is following their footsteps. What I love most, is maybe the art will inspire a generation of Arkansans youth to step forward into new experience, to see the world through new eyes, to raise their expectations on what life can and should be.

  • ddfoto

    ddfoto said 8 years ago

    Great article and the comments are interesting. I think people can do what they want with their money. At least she is doing something for the community and its free, that is even better. Good for her and lucky are the children and locals that will get to visit for free (who appreciate it).

  • nellsvintagehouse

    nellsvintagehouse said 8 years ago

    Good for her for building something that inspires (and is free)

  • burnetcreativeart

    burnetcreativeart said 8 years ago

    Anytime art can be free for all is a great thing! Thanks for this article!

  • yimmekedesign

    yimmekedesign said 8 years ago

    Wow, such controversy. All of us like the cute little "Beetle" Volkswagen, right ??? Well guess who sponsored this cutie that has such a big place in our hearts : Volkswagen was originally founded in 1937 by the Nazi trade union, the German Labor Front (Deutsche Arbeitsfront). Adolf Hitler declared his intentions for a state-sponsored "Volkswagen" program. The "People's Car" would be available to citizens of the Third Reich through a savings scheme at 990 Reichsmark, about the price of a small motorcycle (an average income being around 32RM a week). Despite heavy lobbying in favor of one of the existing projects, Hitler chose to sponsor an all-new, state-owned factory. So on 22 June 1934, Dr. Ferdinand Porsche agreed to create the "People's Car" for Hitler. Betcha a lot of Beetle drivers do not realize they are driving a car sponsored by Adolf Hitler himself, but...does that make this cutie any less cute? Wasn't it also very popular in the Hippie era, when people were all for peace and love? Hitler was also the one building the "Autobahn" all over Germany. My grandfather was in the "Neuengamme" concentration camp, but he never hated, never allowed his heart to be bitter and later used the Autobahn to visit "good people" in Germany. My moral to this story: " Always find the positive in a negative world"

  • misshettie

    misshettie said 8 years ago

    Thanks for reminding us that Art needs to be shared--with everyone not just the urbanites or wealthy. Good for Alice Walton--she gave back to the community that she was from. I would love to visit!

  • Gypsymoondesigns

    Gypsymoondesigns said 8 years ago

    yimmekedesign you do make a good point. Now if we could just change the negative world!

  • PetitPoulailler

    PetitPoulailler said 8 years ago

    Nothing in this life is ever free. Nothing. Ever. Someone or group of someones *always* pays. Corporations take care of themselves, first and foremost. I'd have respect for Ms. Walton if she'd've built the museum anonymously. As it is, she's garnering the accolades and the warm fuzzies from money earned off the backs of her Far Eastern worker bees. And hey! Isn't there a connection between Etsy and WalMart? oh yeah ... James Breyer, on the WalMart BOD and on Etsy's BOD. Was that connection made clear in this article? Etsy is wonderful. WalMart is wonderful. Self-serving is handmade.

  • itsybetsy

    itsybetsy said 8 years ago

    "Always find the positive in a negative world." Cheap and easy talk. Ask a child under the age of 10 who sleeps on a concrete floor and seldom sees mom and dad to find the positive. Ask the residents of any rural American town who have their economy laid to waste by WalMart, and who lost all their entrepreneurs and culture when their home-grown business were driven to bankruptcy by WalMart to find the positive. Because Nazi's designed the Beetle that makes this art museum a good fit for Etsy's homepage? This is supposed to be a website devoted to helping people be entrepreneurs, and encouraging people to spend more $ when they shop because they value spending their dollars on original work and paying a fair wage for that work. WalMart is a company devoted to crushing every business that is not WalMart ad that does not generate income for WalMart. Etsy and WalMart should be oil and water. And we should question why Etsy is here, holding hands with them. First they came for the communists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a communist. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a trade unionist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because I wasn't a Jew. Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak out for me. To say it's just a nice free art museum and isn't that great is to put your head in the sand, not just about the museum, but about what it means to have Etsy tout the museum. What does that mean at Etsy? What does that tell you about what Etsy values and stands for?

  • itsybetsy

    itsybetsy said 8 years ago

  • UnadillaWoodworks

    UnadillaWoodworks said 8 years ago

    I've heard of this , glad to see it here presented on Etsy.

  • doudoudesign

    doudoudesign said 8 years ago

    Maybe she should have opened a free museum for the children in the third world countries that make all those Walmart products. And why is this on Etsy?

  • PetitPoulailler

    PetitPoulailler said 8 years ago

    The bottom line is ... if you promote WalMart or shop at WalMart, you are openly and actively supporting the company's actions and policies. You can rationalize all you want but the fact remains: if you promote WalMart or shop at WalMart, you are actively supporting the company's actions and policies.

  • yimmekedesign

    yimmekedesign said 8 years ago

    Itsybetsy, You are entitled to your opinion. Just like me. The difference between me and you is that I respect yours and I would never call someone's opinion "cheap and easy". You are entitled to speak out, just do not hurt and beat up. I thought this was a conversation not a yelling match. The loudest yellers usually get the most attention but also can do more harm than good.

  • PetitPoulailler

    PetitPoulailler said 8 years ago

    no to interfere ... but itsybetsy wrote that the sentiment was cheap and easy. Not your opinion. "Have a nice day!" is not deep and thought provoking but I'm certain that those saying it truly mean it. My hardware store in my small town was put out of business by WalMart. I'm hard pressed to find any good in WalMart policies or actions, regardless of how deeply felt your sentiment is.

  • Furiousdreams

    Furiousdreams said 8 years ago

    Ms. Walton is trying to build her own legacy to counter her father's bad business model. Walmart has never been like a Sears in the wilderness - and it has always pushed out small businesses in its path. I would never visit this museum on principle and I won't set foot in a Walmart. It also seems to be the inverse of everything that Etsy was built on; a way for small handmade artisans to get their wares to the masses in an alternative to a big box store.

  • Vintage2NewJewelry

    Vintage2NewJewelry said 8 years ago

    It is hard to believe that I actually saw this article on Etsy. I am very disappointment as I thought Etsy was different. In the end though, money talks. I think of all the little children that had to work their childhood's away so THEY could have that net worth of $20.9 billion dollars. Will those little children get to see this museum or what their hard worked bought and paid for? And for all of the small family businesses that WalMart wiped off the map?... Shame, Shame Etsy. And way.

  • itsybetsy

    itsybetsy said 8 years ago

    yimmekedesign I did not target you specifically, nor did I yell at you, or anyone. Why do you feel yelled at? It is cheap and easy to say to always find the positive when you live a privledged American life. I do assume whoever said that was an American as it is usually Americans who extoll the virtures of ignoring things that make us uncomfortable and looking on the bright side (And I say that as an American who loves the bright side). But it is not so easy to do when you're a third world child laborer. The city where I went to adopt my daughter, we did not see the sun for the 8 days we were there. Not once, not at all, from factory smog. It was cold and crisp and about the same, geographically, as Pennsylvania; it was December. Not once did it rain; not once did the sun break through the smog. Much easier to be cheery over here, with sun, and food, and growing up in your home and not in a WalMart factory away from your parents. So, yes, for us Americans, the "cheer up" talk is cheap and easy. And we should be aware that our experience is a protected bubble, and not common. That's what makes us privledged. I struggle to pay my bills and my mortgage, but I live in a home; you live in a home or an apartment. You do not live in a factory dormatory seperated from your parents, and trying to help support your family while under the age of 10. Compared to that almost all of us in the USA lead privledged lives. "Find the positive" is so much easier to do when you've seen it at least once in your life, when you know what it looks like. A disagreement is not an attack. WalMart, though, has a lot to answer for, and Etsy should not be in bed with it, free art or no. At least, I don't see how you can say, "Come sell or buy at Etsy because we have these values. We support you and these things" And then also say, "Aw, isn't WalMart nice? Look at this free museum they 'gave us,' and no one had to do anything to get it. They just love us that much." I mean, Etsy, we're all here because we're smart people. Please don't treat us like we're not.

  • yimmekedesign

    yimmekedesign said 8 years ago

    Itsybetsy, No I am not an American. I moved to the US about 9 years ago and like you I do not agree with Walmart practices. As much as I can, I like to support small businesses. With my example of the Volkswagen I was merely trying to point out that everything and every business from small to big, is RELATIVE. I was not talking in support of anything or anybody, just giving an example of how we live in this world and people around us make and made choices we may not agree with, but we have to make the best out of it. It is our responsibility to make choices for the good in a not so good world.

  • TeenAngster

    TeenAngster said 8 years ago

    Thanks for the thoughtful discussion. However, it seems the conversation has come to a close.

  • This discussion has wrapped up!