TRAVEL HERE: CRYSTAL BRIDGES MUSEUM OF AMERICAN ART
Crystal Bridges has been open for a while now, but I didn’t get to go until The Lemonade Tour. I have to admit I felt a little bit guilty about going at all. Crystal Bridges is in Bentonville, Arkansas, because it was built by one of Sam Walton‘s heirs. It’s also free. I’m not a big fan of Walmart, but in spite of that, I couldn’t stay away. Maybe I should have made a donation while I was there.
Planning – From Planted Seed to Fruition
I first heard about it on an episode of CBS Sunday Morning. Bill records the show, so we didn’t watch it on a Sunday morning. Instead it was a weekday afternoon. Bill was having some lunch and I was getting ready to go somewhere. As I watched, I decided Walmart couldn’t be all bad if it was responsible for something this wonderful, even if only in part.
But I was plagued by a series of family issues and it took a while to get there. As soon as Deb and I began discussing The Lemonade Tour, I knew I was going to figure out how to get to the museum. One of our important stops would be Lebanon, Missouri, so it was even on the way, sort of. Besides, Deb is usually amenable to all my museum excursions. Thank God for good friends.
I learned even more about Crystal Bridges after I arrived at Eureka Springs. Our hostess at the B&B loaned us a DVD about the museum. I was at fever pitch as we headed out the door Sunday morning. See, I wasn’t only excited about the museum itself, I was also thrilled with the special exhibition they had on view – Norman Rockwell.
The museum doesn’t open until eleven and when it did, we were there with tickets in hand to see the exhibit. I don’t want to wax too eloquent about it, because the exhibit has closed, but we spent two hours in there, so that should give you some idea about how much there was to see. Their new exhibit is art related to American Women and is called Angels and Tomboys. It should be just as good as Normal Rockwell was.
There was so much to absorb in the Rockwell exhibit that our minds were numb at the end of it. Just to give you an example of how high tech this place is, we were given ipods for the audio tour, not those acoutiguides you’ve carried around in other museums. Do you think Miss Walton got the Walmart Low Price Guarantee. Anywayre-entering reality was difficult.
We were also hungry. Crystal Bridges anticipated our need. There’s a huge hall filled with tables. You have two choices. There’s a full service cafeteria at one end. Deb and I chose the beverage and sandwich bar near the front. We weren’t up to the other line.
If we lived anywhere near to museum or had more days in the area, I would have saved the balance of the museum for another day – but we didn’t have that luxury. So we attacked museum’s own collection of American Art. The museum is very heavily weighted to paintings. There is some sculpture, but not much. There are no decorative arts and as you might remember from my post about the St. Louis Art Museum, I’m partial to decorative arts.
I’m really not being critical, merely telling you what is there. Their collection is extensive and quite interesting. It’s just got more paintings than anything else.With no ipod to entertain and inform us, the regular collection did not take as long as the special exhibition. I was really tired by then, but I wasn’t going to leave without taking a look at some of the well-touted trails outside. I’ve heard that there’s more sculpture out there and some very pretty landscaping.
We went back to the car for the camera and perused the trail map. Please don’t judge us too harshly, but we were just too tired to see much of the trails. Remember we’d done a some power walking in St. Louis to see the botanical garden and the art museum in one afternoon. Then just the day before we completed a marathon stair-climbing feat, followed by traipsing through the Crescent Hotel on a tour. That day we’d stood for two hours in the Norman Rockwell exhibit and put another hour or so in for the museum’s regular collection. Our legs were exhausted!
The Dogwood Trail was a mile. The Crystal Bridges Trail was another mile. And those distances were one way. We used a portion of the Art Trail to get to the back of the museum and then strolled along something that’s probably for the maintenance crew, because it doesn’t have a name on the map. That’s where we took these pictures. Hope you enjoy them. Then come back next week for the Great Passion Play.
2 thoughts on “Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art”
Whatever the scuttlebutt may say, it’s a marvelous museum. One I enjoy and recommend to others, in spite of my less than affectionate opinion of Walmart.
Jane – The scandal in the international art community is that Sam’s daughter didn’t want her extensive fortune left to her nieces and nephews (the requirement if his daughter didn’t marry and have children of her own). She had so much money to spend, she routinely out-bid other galleries when private collections went up for sale. Walton’s daughter was above understanding auction protocol and bought whatever she wanted.