A portion of the gift, some $350 million, will be allocated for operating expenses, which are expected to total about $16 million annually once the museum opens in November. Another $325 million will be used to create an art acquisitions fund, while the remaining portion, $125 million, will support maintenance and other costs associated with the museum's upkeep.
The brainchild of Walmart stores heiress Alice Walton, the museum, which is being funded entirely by the Walton family and its foundation, is expected to draw between 150,000 and 300,000 visitors in its first year. While the total cost of the project has not been — and may never be — disclosed, area leaders believe it will be a boon to the local economy.
"By investing in the endowment of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, my family has laid a foundation on which this institution can continue to grow as a resource for our community, state, and nation," said Walton. "This endowment investment is core to the foundation's goal of further enhancing the quality of life in northwest Arkansas and enabling the region to continue to flourish."