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 3,337 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
Austin’s oldest museum offers daily tours (June 22, 2016)
Dine out with The ROCK (June 22, 2016)
Esparza reunion planned for July 9 (June 22, 2016)
Free guided hikes at Enchanted Rock (June 22, 2016)
Getting your hands dirty — in the garden with Iris Seale (June 22, 2016)
Men: Pay attention to your health (June 22, 2016)
Movies in the Park (June 22, 2016)
New Pioneer Playroom offers hands-on learning (June 22, 2016)
Old newspaper makes memories ‘Local and Personal’ (June 22, 2016)
Poth church to celebrate 90 years (June 22, 2016)
See Legacy of Leadership exhibit in Washington (June 22, 2016)
SS museum plans meeting (June 22, 2016)
Tips for a safe trip to the beach (June 22, 2016)
Wall pocket (June 22, 2016)
Area seniors invited to Bingo Tuesdays (June 15, 2016)
Art Walk America contest deadline is June 23 (June 15, 2016)
Attend picnic at Dewees-Remschel House June 15 (June 15, 2016)
DRT receives honors at state convention (June 15, 2016)
Hear patriotic tunes in Pleasanton (June 15, 2016)
It’s gone! The Spot is gone! (June 15, 2016)
Join WASP for summer season (June 15, 2016)
Jubilee offers fun for the whole family (June 15, 2016)
Martinez Social Club keeps you dancing (June 15, 2016)
Meet 2016 Stockdale Watermelon Jubilee, rodeo court candidates (June 15, 2016)
Moms walking group invites members (June 15, 2016)
Napoli Glass (June 15, 2016)
Oak Hills Church plans yard sale (June 15, 2016)
Ramirezes celebrate golden anniversary (June 15, 2016)
See free movies at Arcadia (June 15, 2016)
Sutherland Springs seeks volunteers (June 15, 2016)
Vendors needed for Freedom Fest (June 15, 2016)
Witness Summer Solstice performance (June 15, 2016)
Add amphibians to your landscaping (June 8, 2016)
Enjoy free summer movies at Rolling Oaks Mall (June 8, 2016)
Enjoy Pilgrim Opry (June 8, 2016)
Gene Watson in Kerrville (June 8, 2016)
Hear ‘Bach to Luckenbach’ (June 8, 2016)
Hummel plate (June 8, 2016)
June dances in Geronimo (June 8, 2016)
Meet for Play Dates in the library (June 8, 2016)
OLPH names 2016 Mother of the Year, May Queen (June 8, 2016)
Prepare to enter cool creation in Ice Cream Freeze-off (June 8, 2016)
Remember Flag Day June 14 (June 8, 2016)
Running group plans June 11 run (June 8, 2016)
St. Ann Teen ACTS plan 5K Color Run (June 8, 2016)
Take Dad out to FatherFest June 19 (June 8, 2016)
The old Wagenfuehr house in Bleu Casa Village (June 8, 2016)
Tracking an icon in the ‘horned lizard capital of Texas’ (June 8, 2016)
Building communities (June 1, 2016)
Cowboy penknife (June 1, 2016)
Garcia receives Linda West Scholarship (June 1, 2016)
Garner State Park celebrates 75 years (June 1, 2016)
Libraries prepare to launch ‘Reading Is So Delicious!’ summer program (June 1, 2016)
Lutheran Church windows relocated for a little TLC (June 1, 2016)
St. Helena Men’s Club plans picnic (June 1, 2016)
Stockdale’s early beginnings (June 1, 2016)
The progression of the classic ‘koozie’ (June 1, 2016)