|Updated: 11/13/2011 10:56 am
||Published: 11/12/2011 4:29 pm
BENTONVILLE, AR -- Crystal Bridges is a huge circle of influence for art enthusiasts across the country.
Walmart heiress Alice Walton designed the gallery to not only encourage art in Arkansas, but she also hopes to spur economic growth. Cecil Turner owns a diner in downtown Bentonville.
"All the entrepreneurs are anticipating lots of more people downtown," said Turner.
But the opening is not picture perfect says some critics, who think galleries such as Walton's belong in larger cities and not in Northwest Arkansas. State leaders disagree.
"I think when people of the world come to see this beautiful artwork, They also come to see the beauty of Northwest Arkansas and they will realize this is exactly where it is supposed to be," said Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDaniel.
Despite the criticism of some, historians say there is overwhelming support for the collection estimated to cost at least $1.2 billion dollars.
Museum directors are very protective over the pieces. Observers must stay three feet from the art to prevent any possible damage.
"Something in this part of the country has been needed for a long time. Something on this scale is amazing," said observer Beth Mattson, who visited the museum from Oklahoma.
Mark Monroe and several students from University of Central Arkansas appreciate the significance of the art.
"The stuff we are seeing here is the stuff we are learning about in the classroom," said Monroe.