Over a decade ago, philanthropist Alice Walton decided to open a museum dedicated to the power of art, nature, and the American spirit.
Starting with a deep love of watercolors and an interest in American history, Walton focused a great deal of her life collecting work by early American artists. Dedicated to expanding knowledge on the arts and history, Alice Walton created a museum to bring people together and donated her life’s collection of works to be displayed for the public to enjoy.
Pieces of her collection include work from famous American painters like Georgia O’Keefe, Andrew Wyeth, and Joan Mitchell. Now, another piece of history is making its way to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art: The United States Constitution.
A Rare Glimpse of a Treasured Piece of History
For the first time in decades, a rare, original edition of the US Constitution was not only brought back in the public eye but put up for sale. The New York auction house, Sotheby’s, saw this same document 33 years before when it was sold there for the first time. The copy of the Constitution was sold this time around for a total of $43.2 million, blowing high estimates out of the water and easily doubling them. The $40+ million purchase broke auction records for being the most expensive sale of a written manuscript, printed text, and historical document.
The buyer of this almost-priceless document was Kenneth Griffin, well-known founder and CEO of the hedge fund Citadel. With his purchase, Griffin emphasized to the Wall Street Journal how crucial the Constitution is to American history and how he intends to make this copy available for all Americans and those who visit America to appreciate.
The Constitution plays a foundational role in American history and is still one of the oldest continuing charters of government in the world. This incredibly rare piece of manuscript sold at Sotheby’s is one of only 13 known copies in existence.
The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Displays This Gift
The document will be taking its first trip to the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, where it will be displayed for the public. Crystal Bridges is a stunning museum that opened its doors on November 11, 2011, just recently celebrating its 10-year anniversary. The museum’s founder, philanthropist Alice Walton, has dedicated her life to emphasizing the beauty of both nature and the American spirit through art. Her goal is to make art more accessible for all while helping to educate people along the way.
The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is named after a natural spring on the museum’s grounds. The stunning design of the building, along with massive glass windows, helps any visitor to appreciate the beauty of the area in America’s heartland. The museum is full of renowned artworks that perfectly encapsulate the American spirit. And with free entry, people are easily encouraged to learn about history and connect through art. With priceless works like “Kindred Spirits” by Asher B. Durand and now the incoming piece of the Constitution, Crystal Bridges continues to bring in hundreds of thousands of interested visitors to educate and inspire.
The buyer, Griffin, exclaimed that he was more than happy that this rare piece of history was making its first appearance at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. He told interviewers how pleased he is to have the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, which always has free admission, as the first venue to display this foundational document. The Constitution helps to accentuate both early American history and culture, which is what the museum does, too.
Alice Walton and the Constitution
As Alice Walton has been at the helm of her museum since its inception, she recently decided it was time to step down as board chairperson of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Her niece, Olivia Walton, is now succeeding Alice as the board chairperson. Olivia is enthralled to work with the museum and help to expand its culture. She wants to bring in new ideas and new displays that focus more on the culture of America. Walton told interviewers that she and her team are hoping to have the incoming copy of the US Constitution out and on display for the public by mid-to-late 2022.
Alice Walton emphasized that the museum is beyond honored to exhibit one of the most important documents in American history right from their location in the heartland of America. She invites all neighbors and diverse visitors from around the country and around the world to come see the United States Constitution along with Crystal Bridges’ diverse art collection that focuses on telling the story of America and its people. The Constitution has a story to share of new independence and hope for a bright future. With its display at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, hopefully, many will be inspired.
Photo: “Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art” by mikenorton