Arkansas Business writer Jan Cottingham scored interviews with Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art director Don Bacigalupi and American art authority John Wilmderding about the contemporary trend the museum acquisitions are taking. Wilmderding influenced museum founder Alice Walton's early collecting. Recently announced acquisitions have Bacigalupi's fingerprints on them. Most interesting is the discussion on Walton's effect on the art market. Says Wilmderding:
"She will not spend 'at any cost.' There have been things that we have passed up that drive me crazy. You think, 'Well, you can afford to buy it; get it. It's going to be worth the inflated price someday.' But she's been really tough.
"It's had an important effect on dealers in the market," Wilmerding said. "Dealers can't just assume Alice Walton is going to buy anything. ... She's exercised restraint all along the way. And I don't mean simply only buying bargains but just being absolutely ruthless on realistic market values.
Bacigalupi says the museum may open at the end of 2011 or the beginning of 2012. Then the new Walton Arts Center will begin to rise next to it on the Walton's hundred-acre woods. Right?