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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Announces Board Leadership Transition

Olivia Walton
Photography by Beth Hall

Following the recent celebration of its 10-year anniversary, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art looks to the future today with the announcement that Olivia Walton will become the new chairperson of the museum’s board of directors. Founder Alice Walton, who has held the chairperson role since the museum’s opening, will transition into the position of board member.

“I’m delighted to have Olivia step into this leadership role,” said Alice Walton. “Over the past several years, I’ve founded new organizations focused on the arts as well as health and well-being, and I’d like to focus more fully on my board chair roles at these entities. Olivia and I have worked together closely for the past several years. Not only does she have a lifelong interest in and passion for the arts, but she has also gained significant experience through her leadership of the Momentary as well as serving as a Crystal Bridges board member. She’ll be an excellent leader of the museum’s board and will capably guide Crystal Bridges into its next decade.”

Olivia Walton joined the Crystal Bridges board in 2019. In 2020, she guided the opening of the Momentary, the museum’s satellite contemporary arts organization, as co-founder and chair of the Momentary council. She will continue as chair of the Momentary in addition to assuming her new role as chairperson of the Crystal Bridges board.

“I am a big believer in Alice’s vision to create access for all and to welcome all,” said Olivia Walton. “I’m excited to continue our work to expand our physical space, expand our definition of art, and ensure that visitors feel a sense of belonging at both Crystal Bridges and the Momentary.”

Crystal Bridges and the Momentary

In 2005, Alice Walton founded Crystal Bridges as a non-profit charitable organization for all to enjoy. She gifted her art collection to form the basis of the museum’s collection, and the Walton family gifted 120-acres of land in downtown Bentonville as the site for the museum. Crystal Bridges opened to the public on Nov. 11, 2011. Since opening, it has welcomed more than 5.6 million visitors from around the globe, with no cost for admission.

In 2020, Crystal Bridges opened a satellite location, the Momentary, focusing on contemporary visual and performing arts. Founded by the Walton family and based on the vision of Tom, Olivia and Steuart Walton, the Momentary also welcomes all with free admission.

“Crystal Bridges and the Momentary are wonderful gifts to our community, and Alice and Olivia Walton’s leadership have guided these institutions to become what they are today,” said Rod Bigelow, executive director and chief diversity & inclusion officer. “Alice has brought a vision for art in the Heartland to life, and Olivia is carrying that forward as these organizations continue to serve our region and country.”

Alice Walton: Expanding Access to the Arts, Enhancing Health and Well-Being

Building on Crystal Bridges’ success in sharing masterworks of American art from its Arkansas location, Alice Walton established the Art Bridges Foundation in 2017 to expand access to American art across the nation by providing funding support to museums of all sizes in order to create projects that educate, inspire, and deepen engagement with local communities.

That same year, she also founded the Alice L. Walton Foundation, which works to enhance the quality of life for individuals through providing access to offerings that improve well-being and create diverse and inclusive communities. The foundation has supported major initiatives to increase teacher diversity, expand art programs at universities and diversify museum leadership. Through this work, the foundation strives to deliver meaningful and lasting change to individuals and communities most in need.

Alice Walton’s transformative experiences in the arts led to an interest in wellness and how art, nature and the spaces around us shape and improve our lives. In 2019, she established the Whole Health Institute, a non-profit organization focused on improving health and well-being for all. The institute strives to create fundamental changes in the way communities, employers, government policies and health systems work together to help individuals take charge of their health and live their fullest, most meaningful lives.

In addition to the institute, the formation of a new degree-granting non-profit Whole Health School of Medicine and Health Sciences was recently announced, as well as a joint initiative between the Alice L. Walton Foundation and Cleveland Clinic to identify ways of providing access to Cleveland Clinic’s renowned specialty care services in Northwest Arkansas.

Olivia Walton: Advocacy for the Arts, Economic Empowerment in the Heartland

Olivia Walton lends her voice and leadership to advocacy for the arts, childhood wellbeing and economic empowerment in America’s Heartland. In November 2021, she was named board chairperson for Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Olivia also serves as executive board chair of the Momentary, principal of Ingeborg Investments and is a co-founder of the Heartland Summit.

In her personal philanthropy, Olivia focuses on promoting the arts as an economic driver; improving the wellbeing of children in Northwest Arkansas and the Arkansas/Mississippi Delta; and women’s empowerment. Olivia leads the vision for OZ Art NWA, which supports the regional arts scene with its own collection on view throughout Bentonville and collaborates with regional and national artists to bring outdoor art to parks and trails. She also serves on the national board of directors for Teach for America.

Olivia’s curiosity, interest in big ideas and desire to make a difference come from her years of experience as a national journalist for NBC News, MSNBC and as an anchor for Bloomberg Television in New York and London. She earned her undergraduate degree from the University of Pennsylvania and her master’s degree from the London School of Economics. Olivia lives in Bentonville, Arkansas with her husband, Tom, and their two daughters.