A Brief History of the Museum That’s a Part of Walmart’s History
The Walmart Museum is as much a part of Walmart’s history as the exhibits and artifacts that it houses. First opened in 1990, the museum was known as the Walmart Visitor Center. But as times changed and the term "Visitor Center" came to refer more to regional, state, and local tourism offices, it became apparent that a name change was needed. And so, today, The Walmart Museum carries on the mission it always has: to honor Walmart’s legacy, demonstrate its core values, and cast a vision of Walmart tomorrow.
“It Has Truly Been a Labor of Love”
The creation of the Walmart Museum was, as Sam Walton put it, "a labor of love" for many associates. Led by Betty Holmes, the team scrupulously documented the beginnings of the Walton family, the growth of Sam Walton as a leader and businessman, and the founding of Walmart. Holmes traveled extensively with Sam, most often by plane with Sam as their pilot. From the architecture to the cabinets’ craftsmanship, the associates involved reminisce to this day about how the museum came together. There were many people involved in the first incarnation of the museum, and many of those also worked as uniformed greeters after its opening.
About Carolyn “Boo” Randolph
The one who served as the museum’s guiding light and expert on all things Walmart was Carolyn "Boo" Randolph. "Boo" as everyone called her, was a warm and omnipresent figure at the museum until her retirement in 2011. In February of that same year, Boo received the prestigious Rabbit Dickerson Award from the Bentonville Chamber of Commerce for her dedication to Walton’s 5&10, an icon of the Bentonville Square. Boo had also been known for her role as cartoon superhero "Shirley Shrinkage" who helped Walmart associates learn how to battle "shrinkage" – unexpected or unexplained inventory loss.
A Very Grand Re-Opening
On May 20, 2011, 2 years of renovation work preserving the Bentonville Square’s two oldest buildings was completed. The Walton’s 5&10 building and the adjacent "Terry Block" building, (both of which comprise the museum complex today) were unveiled in a ribbon-cutting ceremony as the museum celebrated its Grand Re-Opening. Today, The Walmart Museum continues to evolve to serve its visitors, its community, and its mission.
A Different Kind of Experience
During the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020, the museum closed its doors for the safety of its visitors and community, reopening 7 months later in October. The museum adopted a new online booking system and social distancing protocols to help people come together in the galleries, while still staying apart in a responsible way. Today, The Walmart Museum continues to evolve to serve its visitors, its community, and its mission.