Last Saturday, the Museum Science and Management Graduate students made a trip to Bentonville, Arkansas to see Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. The museum is nestled in the Ozark forest, which is beautiful this time of year with the changing colors of the leaves. The architecture of the museum stands out from any other building in the area, creating an inspiring setting that draws people inside. The architect, Moshe Safdie, wanted visitors to be able to see gorgeous views of the landscape outside while being surrounded by breathtaking art. Crystal Bridges’ goal is to make a connection between nature, people, and the art it houses, and they do an amazing job doing so.
Crystal Bridges’ mission is to “welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature.” The grounds include: exhibit spaces, classrooms, a delicious restaurant, a gathering hall, walking trails, and even the famous Bachman- Wilson house. All in all, it is over one hundred acres of opportunity to be drawn in and inspired! Their permanent collection extends from the Colonial era to present day, allowing the visitor to experience hundreds of years of artistic techniques and changing subjects. They proudly house pieces from famous artists such as Norman Rockwell, Georgia O’ Keeffe, Asher B. Durand, and many more.
The museum also offers a variety of classes and performances for all ages that wish to learn more about American Art. This includes an opportunity for schools, teachers, and families to go beyond the typical understanding of what is proudly displayed on the walls. Stated on their website, Crystal Bridges also has over 40,000 schoolchildren visiting the grounds annually as a part of a Visit program, allowing schools to be reimbursed for their field trip and any additional cost. This is a great way to include schools without the worry that teachers may have that could accompany getting outside of the classroom.
One of the exhibits that visitors must experience is the famous Bachman- Wilson House. The subtle, yet beautiful architecture is a classic example of Frank Lloyd Wright and his Usonian architecture. If you’re wondering what Usonian means, it is often described as a “distinct American style.” Originally built in New Jersey for a family, it was eventually sold to the Tarantino couple, who believed it be best for the Crystal Bridges Museum to uphold its integrity. In 2013, the Museum acquired it and moved it from New Jersey, to Bentonville, Arkansas.
This trip was a truly breathtaking experience. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is for anyone loving an educational, yet inspiring experience going back in time to see what artists created in the past centuries. I would definitely recommend planning on spending most of day there, as you will not want to leave.