Crystal Bridges: Art in the Valley

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My friend Michael has generously offered to guest post his visit to the Crystal Bridges American Art Museum in Bentonville Arkansas

Located in a natural ravine on 120 acres of Ozark forest is the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.  This Bentonville, Arkansas Museum houses hundreds of works from colonial times to present day America. This complex was designed by the world-renowned artist Moshe Safdie.

An aerial view of the Crystal Bridges Museum complex.

Daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, Alice Walton first conceived of a sprawling museum that could both exhibit American Art and showcase the natural beauty of the Northern Arkansas Ozarks. Alice and her brothers had played in the ravine as children. She had developed a love of Art at an early age and starting with a purchase of Picasso’s “Blue Nude” and developing into an extensive personal collection.

The buildings fit naturally and efficiently with their surroundings.

In 2005 Alice first approached the Family Board with her ideas for a world-class museum, and in 2010 the museum was opened to the public. Crystal Bridges is a series of buildings on both sides of the water joined by two bridges. The museum reflects the surrounding topography in the design of the buildings. From the sloped roofs that carry your eyes up the ravine to the waterline of the structure.

The structure blends naturally with the surrounding environment summer or winter.

There are three gallery spaces: Early American, American, and Contemporary. There is also a children’s area. When I was there this summer, they were presenting a showcase of the works of Georgia O’Keefe that will run until September 2018.


The show contains her paintings, sculptures, watercolors, and landscapes of the Southwestern Deserts of the United States. Other artists who were also influenced by her were presented as well.

The Early American Gallery


The Museum features a sizable amount of portraits that include people from all economic classes and walks of life.

If this guy weren’t cordoned off, you’d probably go over and talk to him.  Very lifelike sculpture.
Sculpture from the Contemporary Gallery
“We the people” this is made up of hundreds of shoestrings


The Glass Dress

“Picture of Robert” Actually, it’s a painting. But that’s the title.
My partner Steve, among the Contemporary Art


Crystal Bridges at Winter

Outside, you can spend the day exploring over four miles of trails. It isn’t difficult to feel immersed in the scenic beauty of the Ozark mountains. Each path features different plant-life, terrain, and ecosystems.

Each of the trails is unique to the other. You can spend hours strolling through the pristine Ozark wilderness.
Be careful where you walk the deer are huge. PS This is me, Michael, the author of this post.

The grounds also contain the Bachman-Wilson House which was a commission of Frank Lloyd Wright. The home was originally built in New Jersey but was on a floodplain. Crystal Bridges acquired the home, and it was opened to the public in 2015. cb7

Admission to the museum is free for the permanent collection. Entry for the Bachman-Wilson House and the contemporary shows are $10. 

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