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$10.35 million gift to Bentonville’s Amazeum from Lee Scott family
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$10.35 million gift to Bentonville’s Amazeum from Lee Scott family

A $10.35 million gift will be used to expand the Scott Family Amazeum, Lee Scott announced recently.

The money will go toward reimagining the Amazeum’s outdoor space and add a 5,000-square-foot indoor gathering space, it was announced in one of the Amazeum’s Learning Loft rooms. Rain moved the event indoors.

The donation comes from the Scott family led by Scott, former Walmart CEO, and his wife, Linda, alongside their son Eric and wife, Elda, and son Wyatt and his wife, Janell, according to a news release.

“The Amazeum has had a tremendous impact on our family, and we believe in the importance of investing in its future,” Lee Scott said in a news release. “Through this ongoing commitment to the Amazeum, we are investing in the next generation of thinkers, innovators and leaders –ensuring that the Amazeum continues to inspire and educate future generations.”

Sam Dean, museum executive director, said he was grateful for the leadership and support from the Scott family.

“Today was really thinking about what happens next,” Dean said. “How the museum takes its everyday magic and expands to new audiences, expands the physical building to new dimensions.”

The contribution comes after a series of conversations with the Northwest Arkansas community, which identified opportunities to further support early learners and their caregivers, expand STEAM education initiatives throughout the region and create new, innovative spaces and programs for preteens, teens and adults. The Scott family’s gift is a direct response to those community needs and will serve as a catalyst for further expansion of the Amazeum, according to the release.

Plans for a 5,000-square-foot community gathering building and a dedicated space for early learners will further enhance the Amazeum’s campus, Scott said.

The Amazeum has about an acre of outdoor space.

“We’re going to get a chance to work in what you see in that acre of outdoor space, but there are also little bits to move around the rest of our property,” Dean said. “We will be looking and reimagining how all the spaces can be used in different ways. We’ll see a really radical transformation in our outdoor space, and then you will see an evolution in other spots around our immediate property.”

Eric Scott in the release said the next phase of growth will complement the nearby Crystal Bridges of American Art nature trails and Orchards Park, creating an exciting outdoor destination for Northwest Arkansas.

More information about the enhancements will be be released in the summer and fall, Dean said.

Nearly 1.8 million people have visited the Amazeum since it opened in 2015. Amazeum will reach 2 million visits next year, Dean said.

The Amazeum, located at 1009 Museum Way, opened in July 2015. It features about 50,000 square feet of exhibit and learning spaces inside and about an acre of outdoor space. Exhibits are designed to be touched, climbed on and interacted with, according to Amazeum’s website.

More than 180,000 schoolchildren have visited the Amazeum since 2015, Dean said. Students and teachers come from across the four-state area of Arkansas, Kansas, Missouri and Oklahoma.

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