Located in Bentonville Ar, Crystal Bridges is a magnificent museum of American Art.
Nestled in the picturesque Ozark Mountains of northwest Arkansas, the small town of Bentonville may not be the first place you think of when it comes to world-class art museums.
But since opening in 2011, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has put Bentonville on the map as a destination for art lovers from all over the world.
The expansive Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art spans over 120 acres of Ozark forests, with over five miles of trails and a distinct architectural design by renowned architect Moshe Safdie.
The museum showcases a diverse range of works, including permanent collections and temporary exhibits, along with a Museum Store, a restaurant named Eleven, a Coffee Bar, a restored Frank Lloyd Wright house, and a library.
We’ll take a closer look at Crystal Bridges and what makes it such a special place.
History and Mission
Crystal Bridges was founded by Alice Walton, the daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton. Walton, a passionate art collector, had a vision of creating a world-class art museum in her hometown of Bentonville.
She began acquiring works of art in 2005 and soon began planning for the museum’s construction.
The mission of Crystal Bridges is to celebrate the rich artistic heritage of America and to inspire a love of art and nature.
The museum’s collection spans five centuries of American art, from the colonial era to the present day. The works on display represent a wide range of styles and mediums, including painting, sculpture, photography, and video.
Architecture and Design
One of the most striking features of Crystal Bridges is its architecture. The museum was designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie, who sought to create a building that would blend seamlessly with the natural beauty of the Ozark Mountains.
The result is a series of interconnected pavilions that are nestled into the landscape and seem to float above the water of a nearby pond.
The pavilions are connected by a series of glass-walled bridges, which offer stunning views of the surrounding woods and the museum’s outdoor sculpture garden.
Inside, the galleries are spacious and airy, with plenty of natural light and stunning views of the surrounding landscape.
The collection at Crystal Bridges is truly impressive, with over 5,000 works of art on display. Some of the highlights include:
- Gilbert Stuart’s iconic portrait of George Washington, which is widely considered to be the most important American portrait ever painted.
- Norman Rockwell’s “Rosie the Riveter,” which has become an enduring symbol of American strength and resilience.
- James Turrell’s “Skyspace,” a stunning installation that uses light and color to create an otherworldly experience.
- Georgia O’Keeffe’s “Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1,” which sold for a record-breaking $44.4 million at auction in 2014.
- Works by major American artists such as John Singer Sargent, Winslow Homer, Thomas Eakins, Edward Hopper, and Mark Rothko.
The museum also features a number of temporary exhibitions throughout the year, which showcase the work of contemporary artists and explore a wide range of themes and topics.
In addition to the indoor galleries, Crystal Bridges is home to a number of stunning outdoor spaces. The museum’s 120-acre campus includes a network of trails and paths that wind through the woods and past several bodies of water. Along the way, visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor sculptures and installations, including works by Dan Flavin, Roxy Paine, and James Turrell.
One of the most popular outdoor spaces at Crystal Bridges is the Bachman-Wilson House. Designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in the 1950s, the house was moved to the museum’s campus in 2014 and meticulously restored. It is now open to the public for tours and serves as a stunning example of Wright’s signature style.
Education and Outreach
One of the key goals of Crystal Bridges is to make art accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds. To that end, the museum offers a wide range of educational programs and resources for visitors.
These include guided tours, art classes, workshops, and lectures. The museum also offers a variety of resources for teachers, including lesson plans, online activities, and professional development opportunities.
In addition to its educational programs, Crystal Bridges is committed to making art accessible to everyone in the community. The museum offers free admission to all visitors, thanks to the support of the Walton Family Foundation.
This commitment to accessibility has made Crystal Bridges a popular destination for families, school groups, and art lovers from all walks of life.
Walmart sponsors the general admission to Crystal Bridges, enabling visitors to view the permanent collection galleries for free. However, for special temporary exhibitions, there may be an admission fee at times. Click here for more information on Crystal Bridges Museum.
Sat | Sun 10am — 6pm
Mon | Wed 11am — 6pm
Thu | Fri 11am — 8pm
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is a true gem in the heart of Bentonville, Arkansas. Its world-class collection, stunning architecture, and commitment to accessibility and education make it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling through the region.
Whether you’re a die-hard art enthusiast or just looking for a beautiful place to spend an afternoon, Crystal Bridges is sure to leave a lasting impression.
Image at top of the page is Forest Lights at Crystal Bridges, courtesy of Arkansas Tourism