Fear not, sweet children of Bentonville. The celebration of the American spirit known as the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art isn’t closing on Friday. Walmart heir Alice Walton isn’t asking you not to shop on Thanksgiving in sympathy with striking workers. It’s just a cruel, cruel hoax.
A press release posted on the website crystalbridgesfoundation.com yesterday said that Crystal Bridges, hailed as the first major museum dedicated to American art to open in 50 years, would be closed on Black Friday.
In a statement from Ms. Walton that followed, the eighth-richest woman in America and chair of Crystal Bridges’ board was purported to ask Americans to refrain from shopping on Friday so that Walmart employees could enjoy some time off with their families:
In the race to profit from cash-strapped deal-seekers desperate to save a buck, Walmart is now asking its employees to report to work in the middle of the Thanksgiving holiday in order to open stores that evening. This poor treatment of workers and crass commercialization of the holiday stamps ‘Black Friday’ with a whole new meaning: the black mark of shame.
Thousands of Walmart workers are expected to walk out on Friday, in protest of what they call retaliation practices against employees who speak out on issues such as fair pay and affordable health care. Walmart, which is based in Bentonville, Ark., has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board in attempt to stop the walk out.
In addition to its call to boycott Black Friday, the fake press release announced a new Crystal Bridges exhibit focused on labor in American art and centered around Winslow Homer’s “Return of the Gleaners,” a painting which the false press release said ennobled “stooped, back-breaking labor” and represented a “stirring tribute to the survival of the American spirit.”
Diane Carroll, a spokeswoman for the museum, confirmed to Betabeat that the museum would be open during regular hours on Friday, and that an investigation was underway to get to the bottom of the hoax.
As for whether a museum closely affiliated with Walmart, a company often criticized for its labor practices, might one day host an exhibit glorifying working men and women, Ms. Carroll wouldn’t rule it out. “We explore the entirety of the American experience,” she told us. “There are no themes that are kept out.”