You’ve been granted free access to this subscribers only article.
Crystal Bridges Not ‘just another art museum’
This model depicts the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., at night.
Special to the Wilson County NewsJuly 18, 2012 3,148 views Post a comment
Story and photos by
Harry and Linda Kaye Perez
There’s still time to fit in a road trip or two this summer. If you yearn to travel outside the Lone Star State, consider this destination, recommended by a reader.
BENTONVILLE, Ark. -- Something spectacular happened on Nov. 11, 2011, in the beautiful Ozark Mountains. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art officially opened in Bentonville, Ark., a town of 35,000 people. If you are thinking “Just another art museum,” think again.
Crystal Bridges acquired its catchy name from Crystal Springs, which supplies the water for the three large ponds designed into the complex and for the two glass-enclosed and copper-roofed bridges that traverse the ponds. One of those bridges is home to the museum’s dining facility, appropriately named “Eleven” for the museum’s opening date, 11-11-2011. The second bridge houses several of the fabulous galleries within this complex.
Crystal Bridges beckons the spirit to enter a new world of nature and art, beautifully blended and woven together as you step onto the paved walking path just beyond the Bentonville town square. A short 10-minute walk takes you to the south entrance. The landscape along the way will take your breath away.
Bentonville was the home of Sam and Helen Walton. It was here that Sam and his brother, Bud, opened the Walton Five & Dime on the square in the heart of Bentonville in the mid-1940s. And the rest, as they say, is Walmart history. Alice Walton, their youngest daughter and a longtime collector of American art, was the driving force in the creation of Crystal Bridges.
The museum facility, encompassing more than 201,000 square feet, was built in a wooded ravine on 120 acres of land long owned by the Walton family. Architect Moshe Safdie spent 11 years from initial concept, reportedly drawn on a table napkin, to the completion of this multi-million-dollar facility. Nothing was overlooked in creating a people-friendly environment. There are more than 3-1/2 miles of trails open from sunrise to sunset every day of the year. Certain paths are designated for pedestrians only, while others allow bicycles.
Within the galleries of Crystal Bridges are five centuries of exquisite art, each an American masterpiece, including “Kindred Spirits” by Asher Brown Durand (1849), purchased from the New York Public Library for $35 million; a portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart, purchased for $8 million; and “Rosie the Riveter,” created by Norman Rockwell as a cover of the May 29, 1943, issue of the Saturday Evening Post. There are more than 440 works of art on display and another 800 are still in storage. Many of the paintings will be on public display for the first time, as they were purchased from private collections.
In addition to the galleries, there is also the Great Hall for receptions, concerts, and private catered events. The Crystal Bridges restaurant, Eleven, has everything from gourmet coffee and pastries to five-star dishes created by Executive Chef Jacob Harr, all at very reasonable “Walmart” prices. As a bonus, the view from Eleven is breathtaking.
Admission is now and will always be free, thanks to a $20 million grant provided by the Walmart Corp. Arkansas Tourism officials expect Crystal Bridges to become a more popular landmark than the Clinton Presidential Center in downtown Little Rock. In August 2012, Crystal Bridges will launch a school visit program to introduce children of all ages to the world of art.
Even if you are not an art lover, you will be entranced by this vibrant and beautiful complex. After spending a day at Crystal Bridges, walking the trails, relaxing, or enjoying a picnic at one of the many areas provided and perhaps visiting the galleries, you, too, will become a fan.
Harry and Linda Kaye Perez are freelance writers from San Antonio. Together, they share a passion for traveling and writing, and discovering the very best in all corners of the world.
Your Opinions and Comments
Be the first to comment on this story!
You must be logged in to post a comment.
South Texas Living Archives
Behind the lens: Cover photo (August 26, 2015)
Cody Johnson to rock Nixon Feather Fest (August 26, 2015)
Dance in Geronimo (August 26, 2015)
Enjoy Fall Feast in Garfield (August 26, 2015)
Franklin Mint (August 26, 2015)
Got prayer? ‘War Room’ does (August 26, 2015)
He’s lived a sweet, gentle life (August 26, 2015)
Kerrville Fall Music Fest Sept. 4-6 (August 26, 2015)
LV prepares for Hammerfest (August 26, 2015)
Memories soar during Honor Flight (August 26, 2015)
St. Hedwig Legion plans Warrior Cry fund-raiser (August 26, 2015)
Whit’s Initiative donates to children’s home (August 26, 2015)
A window to their world (August 19, 2015)
Behind the lens: Cover photo (August 19, 2015)
Gillespie County Fair, horse racing meet (August 19, 2015)
LBJ autograph (August 19, 2015)
Lutheran youth plan donation fund-raiser (August 19, 2015)
Purchase tickets for veteran fund-raiser (August 19, 2015)
Receive blessing, sundaes (August 19, 2015)
Remembering Coach Henry Tomerlin (August 19, 2015)
The importance of vaccinating your pets (August 19, 2015)
Tickets on sale for Wild Game Dinner (August 19, 2015)
AgapeFest is Aug. 22 (August 12, 2015)
Age Well, Live Well event (August 12, 2015)
Back-to-school carnival (August 12, 2015)
Barbecue benefit for Logan Saenz Aug. 16 (August 12, 2015)
Behind the lens: Cover photo (August 12, 2015)
Bible study in Verdi (August 12, 2015)
Falls City alumni celebrate Beaver Roundup (August 12, 2015)
Free family recycling event (August 12, 2015)
H-E-B invites Texans to shed pounds, gain dollars (August 12, 2015)
Hear country tunes in New Braunfels (August 12, 2015)
Labor Day campout (August 12, 2015)
Play bunco in La Vernia (August 12, 2015)
Prescription-free healing pleasures of summer (August 12, 2015)
Remembering the Farmer’s Daughter Dance Hall (August 12, 2015)
Sunday Country Dance set for Aug. 16 (August 12, 2015)
Tabletop radio (August 12, 2015)
Three Oaks Ice Cream Social (August 12, 2015)
Behind the lens: Cover photo (August 5, 2015)
Classic cookbook (August 5, 2015)
Farmers Market in Loire (August 5, 2015)
Floresville Leo Club Back to School event (August 5, 2015)
Get set to get wet at Splash-O-Lympics (August 5, 2015)
Hear Chris Rybak at Czech Gala (August 5, 2015)
Pilgrim Opry is Aug. 8 (August 5, 2015)
Prom date grows into enduring love — 15 years later (August 5, 2015)
Rey Feo group to award scholarships (August 5, 2015)
Savor: Lemon Pesto Mason Jar Pasta Salad (August 5, 2015)
St. Gerard Rummage Sale Aug. 8 (August 5, 2015)
Stockdale Leo Club fund-raisers (August 5, 2015)
The Floresville, Wilson County story from days gone by (August 5, 2015)
‘The’ rock wall: Searching for answers (August 5, 2015)