Occupiers Protest $1.4 Billion Free Art Museum to Bash Wal-Mart

November 22, 2011 - 10:23 AM

In their zeal to bash Wal-Mart, Occupy Wall Street protesters are even complaining about the company giving $1.4 billion to found a free art museum in Arkansas.

Alice Walton, Wal-Mart heiress, is being criticized by Occupy Wall Street for giving $1.4 billion to found an Arkansas art museum.

The incoherent and absurd messaging of the Occupy Wall Street movement continues. Recently, the OWS crowd joined forces with Wal-Mart workers to protest Crystal Bridges, an American art museum that opened on Nov. 11 in Bentonville, Ark.

Art snobs are outraged by the notion of a major art collection in Arkansas, but protesters are trying to tie this in with their class warfare message about the 99 percent vs. 1 percent.

In a press release posted on GalleristNY.com, protesters said, "Workers negatively impacted by Wal-Mart's recent decision to increase healthcare costs for employees will hold educational events across the country at the Occupy Wall Street encampments in multiple cities putting a face on the Walton family as the '1%' of wealthy Americans making decisions that negatively affect the rest of us."

Gallerist was clearly on the side of protesters since they also called Wal-Mart a "notoriously terrible employer."

The UK's Guardian also took shots at Alice Walton, the Wal-Mart heiress and founder of Crystal Bridges, who spent $1.4 billion on the museum. "Some have celebrated the unveiling of a significant new private art institution, but many have criticized the decision to spend $1.4bn of company and family foundation money as the retail colossus cuts back its worker's benefits," wrote the Guardian.

Citing unnamed 'historians,' the Guardian compared Walton to "19th-century robber barons" and quoted anti-Wal-Mart activist Ben Waxman (of "union-affiliated Making Change@Walmart"). Waxman complained that "opening a huge, opulent museum in the middle of nowhere while the company is cutting health insurance for its employees is troubling. It sends the message Wal-Mart doesn't care about them."

The Guardian either ignored or excluded crucial information about the Crystal Bridges museum: general admission is FREE. That's right, a grant from Wal-Mart is paying for everyone's admission to the permanent exhibits at the new museum. Perhaps OWS forgot to read the FAQ page on the Crystal Bridges website that pointed this out. Art that is free for anyone to look at seems like it would be on the OWS wish list, but apparently not when the person paying for it is named Walton.

Alice Walton told CBS News her motivation for founding Crystal Bridges: "Art wasn't accessible to me as a child and I hope that changes now for people throughout this region." The museum will include iconic pieces of American art including Norman Rockwell's "Rosie the Riveter" and a Charles Wilson Peale portrait of George Washington, according to The Washington Post.

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