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Culminating 6 years' work, Crystal Bridges opening

Six years in the making and financed by untold millions by Alice Walton, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville is to open to the public Friday.
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) - Six years in the making and financed by untold millions by Alice Walton, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville is to open to the public Friday.

Walton will be showing off masterpieces and important works she's collected over the years that span American history.

Visitors coming to see the museum, all 201,000 square feet, are expected to have an economic impact that will exceed that of the Clinton Presidential Center in Little Rock, which is credited with turning the city's downtown into a lively place to live and work.

Admission is free, but the museum is issuing timed tickets during the opening months. The museum was booked solid for Friday but tickets were available for the following days. The museum will be closed on Tuesdays.

The museum has limited parking, which is the main reason for limiting the number of visitors. Bentonville's downtown square is about a 10-minute walk from the museum, and patrons are encouraged to park downtown.

The path to Crystal Bridges courses through part of the 120-acre woodland that provides the setting for the museum. The facility takes its name from Crystal Spring, one of three clear springs that feed ponds amid the museum buildings.

People who paid to join the museum as members were able to gain entry on Thursday.

Walton, daughter of Wal-Mart Stores Inc. founder Sam Walton, chose Nov. 11 as the opening date for its unique 11-11-11 spot on the calendar. The museum's restaurant is called CafDe 11.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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