Walmart Visitor Center

Bentonville, Arkansas

Project Size: 6,000 square feet
Designers: Ralph Appelbaum Associates

Entrepreneurial Memorabilia

Located on the site of one of Walton’s original variety stores, the center chronicles Sam Walton’s evolution from “5&10” owner to one of the preeminent retailers in the world. It features a museum, café and nostalgic 1950’s styled general store retail store where visitors can purchase originally inspired retro products. The museum experience begins in an AV theater where the history of the iconic retailer is told on a 102” flat screen. Galleries utilize display modules fashioned as open scrapbooks that share facts, insights and artifacts. The Walmart story is articulated through a combination of high-tech electronic and low-tech mechanical interactives. On the high-tech side, hidden sensors play audio files when people approach certain displays and a huge touch-screen enables visitors to peruse the thousands of Walmart locations and zoom in on any specific store they choose. Low-tech interactives range from a math quiz where visitors are challenged to calculate 30% and 50% markups on household items such as toilet seats and light bulbs to images of appliances and furniture that flip up to reveal both current prices and what the same item cost in 1960. Around the gallery perimeter, a timeline identifies landmark dates in Walmart history. The timeline is broken into “eras” and includes displays of items which were popular during each time period.

Value for a Value Retailer

kubik maltbie served on the design build team and provided pre-construction consultation, fabrication and installation services. kubik maltbie’s clean detailing and fabrication is showcased in the engineered u-shaped wood ceiling that wraps the perimeter of the gallery. Serving multiple functions, the ceiling stabilizes the scrapbook cases as well as providing a concealed location for embedded speakers and lights. A highlight of the visit is a glimpse into Sam Walton’s office. The actual office was sealed and inventoried at the time of his death. In recreating the office, every item and document was handled in an archival manner and restored to its original placement right down to Walton’s fishing poll leaning against the wall near his desk. The project team provided tangible value working closely with Walmart personnel to prioritize and cull down the number of showcases and artifacts to adhere to budget constraints. The scope of work on the project included; pre-construction services, as built shop drawings, engineering and fabrication of exhibitry, showcases, interactives, graphics, artifact mounting, shipping and installation on-site.