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"Here’s an accelerated timeline that sums up the unexpected rise of a massive art museum in the American South.

Throughout the early aughts, Dayton Castleman finds himself traveling back and forth from Chicago to Northwest Arkansas to visit his parents, who had moved to Siloam Springs. In 2008, Walmart heir Alice Walton bid to purchase an iconic painting called The Gross Clinic, by Thomas Eakins, for a museum she plans to open in nearby Bentonville, causing a national stir—not least of all because it would mean the piece would move from Philadelphia to its new home in rural Arkansas. (The sale ultimately did not go through).

Castleman, who had previously assumed Walton’s Crystal Bridges Art Museum would simply be a repository for scenes of the Wild West, starts to reconsider his prejudices. Fast forward ten or so years and the artist now feels such an enthusiasm for the venture that he’s relocated permanently to Arkansas, moving there shortly after Crystal Bridges formally opened its doors in 2011. He reasoned, at the time, that the institution could do for Bentonville what the Guggenheim did for Bilbao."

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