Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art welcomes all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of landscape. We explore the unfolding story of America by actively collecting, exhibiting, interpreting, and preserving outstanding works that illuminate our heritage and artistic possibilities.
— Crystal Bridges Mission Statement
During the fall of 2011 my home state of Arkansas became the talk of the art world. Everyone was discussing the opening of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. It’s a museum that not only boasts a fabulous collection, but the architecture itself is an expression of art and certainly the grounds are a masterwork as well.
The first thing you’ll notice about the museum is the landscape, which covers 120 acres of woodland with 6 nature trails. The Ozark Mountain region is breathtaking at any time of the year, but I suggest visiting in October for the fall foliage or April when the dogwoods are in bloom.
The museum complex is nestled at the bottom of a ravine and is made up of a collection of buildings encircling a pond. Two glass-walled pavilions cross over the pond creating a circuit for visitors to follow. The architect, Moshe Safdie, selected materials for the exterior that blend into the woodland – copper roofs, concrete, and wood.
Housed inside the buildings are four galleries, a cafe, museum store, auditorium, library and, of course, art. The art collection is a survey of American art spanning from the Colonial period to contemporary works. There are well-known pieces such as Charles Willson Peale’s George Washington (ca. 1780 – 1782), Asher Brown Durand’s Kindred Spirits (1849) and Andy Warhol’s Dolly Parton (1985) and lesser known diamonds-in-the-rough too.
As you walk through the galleries the scenery of the Ozark Mountains is always quietly in the background. Expansive glass walls offer views of the pond or valley and building materials such as wood beams recall the forest just outside. It truly is a combined experience of art and nature.
Whether you are passionate about art, nature or Americana a visit to Crystal Bridges is a must. It will be a trip to remember.