Branson Day Trips: Crystal Bridges Museum Of American Art
If you’re a lover of art, the next time you’re in Branson you need to schedule a day-trip to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark.
If you’re a lover of art, the next time you’re in Branson you need to schedule a day-trip to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark.
The museum opened in 2011 and has quickly become one of the most significant private art collections in the United States. Alice Walton, daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton, led the multi-year effort to create this world-class museum in Walmart’s hometown of Bentonville. Crystal Bridges is a scenic, two-hour drive from Branson.
The museum itself and the surrounding landscaping is a work of art, designed by renowned architect Moshe Safdie.
The museum’s permanent collection is free to the public thanks to an endowment from the Walton Family Foundation. Crystal Bridges’ collection, valued at more than a half-billion dollars, includes works from practically every significant American artist and ranges from the Colonial and Revolutionary Eras to several 21st Century works.
Notable pieces in the permanent collection include:
- Portrait of George Washington by Charles Willson Peale
- Cupid and Psyche by Benjamin West
- Rosie the Riveter by Norman Rockwell
- Green River, Wyoming by Thomas Moran
- Kindred Spirits by Asher Durand
- The Zodiacal Light by Étienne Léopold Trouvelot
What People Thought About Crystal Bridges Museum Of American Art Before It Opened
Before its opening the art world elite was all aflutter because Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art was destined to be located in Bentonville, AR. Which, by the way, is really not totally isolated, or impoverished, or remoteall things that it was accused of being when word got out of the plans for the museum.
Ms Alice Walton, Walmart heiress, as well as the founder and benefactor of Crystal Bridges, was treated with not a little derision for her decision to build the museum in her beloved Bentonville. The coastal art people were astounded that this museum was to be in a fly-over state.
Decrying the location wasnt the worst of it, the museum was also called a moral blight because Ms. Walton dared to build during a recession. She was accused of cultural vandalism because she purchased art, willingly sold by the way, that had once hung in other places. In particular it caused quite a stir when she purchased Kindred Spirits by Asher B. Durand from the New York Public Library.
Fortunately, she was not to be deterred and continued with her plans despite the naysayers.
Exploring Crystal Bridges Museum Of American Art In Bentonville Arkansas
When my mom told us we needed to visit the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, I have to admit, Steve and I both felt a little skeptical. It was a museum we didnt know much about, nestled in a wooded area in a smaller city in northwest Arkansas that is mostly known for being the birthplace of the giant retailer Walmart. We both enjoy art museums, though, and figured as long as we were driving near Bentonville, wed stop for a bit and a check it out.
Im not even sure how to transition into what we found there, other than to just say it blew our minds!
Starting with the giant spider sculpture at the entrance, the museum was nothing like what we expected to find in a town of 49,000 people in the hills of the Ozarks. We can honestly say that Crystal Bridges is not only one of the best art museums weve seen in the U.S. but perhaps among the best in the world. The museums permanent collection includes American art from five centuries ranging from the Colonial era to the present. It brings to light the diversity of the American spirit and effortlessly melds the art with the beauty of the nature that surrounds it.
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How To Plan Your Visit To Crystal Bridges Museum Of American Art
- General admission: A self-guided experience. To enter, present your ticket at the door of the house. General admission tickets are free. A free, self-guided audio tour of the house is available in both English and Spanish.
- Guided tours: These are one-hour, indoor and outdoor, small-group experiences led by specially trained volunteer tour guides. Guided tours meet in the Museums south lobby 10 minutes before the start time. Guided tours are $10 + tax per person, or are free for Museum Members and youth ages 18 and under. Fees contribute to maintaining and preserving the house for generations to come. The cost of your ticket can be applied to temporary exhibition admission check with Guest Services for details.
What You Need To Know About The Crystal Bridges Museum Of Art
Eureka Springs is known for its unique artistic culture and offers many attractions in the way of art. However, its also close to art meccas that are outside of the city limits. The Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Bentonville is one such destination that should be at the top of your list of places to visit.
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Other Things To Do At The Crystal Bridges Museum Of Art
In addition to museum exhibits, you can dine at the restaurant that overlooks the ponds, visit the library whose collection spans over 50,000 volumes, peruse the museum store, marvel at the sculpture garden, or walk the nature trails that meander through the museums 120 acres. The Bachman-Wilson House, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is also on site.
The Building Is Another Work Of Art
The three, connected glass and wood buildings of Crystal Bridges art museum were designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie. The museum is surrounded by spring-fed water and is absolutely gorgeous!
Sage Advice: If the weather cooperates, give yourself ample time to explore the sculpture garden outside the museum.
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More Art At Crystal Bridges Museum
We discovered so many other recognizable works in the museum, as well. We especially enjoyed the gallery pictured above and the juxtaposition of works like Andy Warhols Dolly Parton and Mary Cassatts Summertime. There were other really striking areas of the museum, as well, like this one below.
Evan Penny created this piece called Old Self: Portrait of the Artist as He Will Be. Variation #2. Made of silicone, pigment, hair, fabric and aluminum, we found this sculpture to be hauntingly realistic. He created this 3-dimensional self-portrait to make himself look decades older. We simply couldnt stop staring at it. This seemingly blank, gray canvas also caught our eye, especially after a docent told us it was worth millions. Its called For Carl Andre. by Brice Marden. We found ourselves intrigued and wanting to know more.
We found interesting works of art around every corner. I really enjoyed spending time in a gallery called Personal Space that considered how the objects we surround oversells with, and the relationships we build tell stories about our lives. The space below was created by Genevieve Gaignard and is called Black is Beautiful.
I could on and on about this museum and the art we saw there. But honestly, you just need plan and trip and see it for yourself. I promise you will not be disappointed.
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Crystal Bridges Museum Architecture
First of all, the museum itself is a work of art. Architect Moshe Safdie created a gorgeous building that beautifully nestles into its natural surroundings. It just looks like it belongs there. We loved the layout inside, as well, as there was a clear path through the art. So often, art museums we visit are in buildings that once had a different purpose maybe a palace or government office building. As such, you never know which way to turn to make sure you see the entire collection. Not at Crystal Bridges. Everything is laid out so well and theres a definite flow to make sure you see as much of the museum as possible.
Another architectural feature on the property is the Bachman-Wilson House, an example of Frank Lloyd Wrights classic Usonian architecture. Originally built for Gloria and Abraham Wilson in 1956, the museum moved the home to Bentonville from its original plot in New Jersey when repeated flooding threatened its preservation.
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How Long Does It Take To Go Through The Crystal Bridges Museum
Grab a pair of comfy shoes because the Crystal Bridges is quite large–201,000 square feet to be exact.
When we visited, we spent about three and a half hours exploring the exhibits which were all indoors. And we still didn’t see everything. Also, if you’re the type of person who loves to walk around and just enjoy nature, then plan on spending about two hours outside walking through the outdoor sculpture garden and Crystal Bridges Trails.
Just as Rome wasn’t built in a day, don’t worry if you too aren’t able to conquer Crystal Bridges in a day. Relax and take your time exploring this amazing space. Grab a cup of coffee and a bite to eat at the museum restaurant, Eleven, or stop by the museum store for a little retail therapy while catching your second wind.
Don’t forget that the museum is completely free, that the museum hours are generous, and that Crystal Bridges is open almost every day of the year, allowing you to see it as many times as you like.
Of All The Hotels In Bentonville Which Hotels Have The Highest User Ratings
When traveling to Bentonville for the first time, many travelers find it difficult to choose a hotel to stay in. According to Trip.com data, Holiday Inn Express Hotel & Suites Bentonville, an IHG Hotel, Quality Inn Bentonville-Rogers and 21C Museum Hotel Bentonvilleare popular hotels with high ratings, making them good choices for your trip.
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Frank Lloyd Wright House
Round out your visit with a tour of the Bachman-Wilson House designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright. The house was originally built along the Millstone River in New Jersey, but was carefully moved to the museum in 2015.
Tickets to the Frank Lloyd Wright house are limited, so be sure to plan ahead! We arrived at Crystal Bridges right when it opened on a Saturday morning, and all of the tickets for the day were already gone.
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Collaboration With Other Museums And Institutions
Portrait of Professor Benjamin H. RandThomas Eakins
In 2006, the museum partnered with the National Gallery of Art in an attempt to purchase Thomas Eakins‘ The Gross Clinic from Thomas Jefferson University. Under the terms of the agreement, the two museums agreed to pay a record $68 million, but the university gave Philadelphia 45 days to match the offer. The Philadelphia Museum of Art and Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts agreed to collectively match the offer and the painting remained in Philadelphia. The purchase forced both museums to sell some of their best Eakins pieces including Cowboy Singing and The Cello Player. In April 2007, Crystal Bridges acquired another Eakins belonging to Thomas Jefferson University entitled Portrait of Professor Benjamin H. Rand for an estimated $20 million.
Walton held talks with Randolph-Macon Woman’s College in Lynchburg, Virginia in spring of 2007. The college was exploring selling part of the Maier Museum of Art‘s collection, but voted instead to sell select items from the collection at Christie’s.
In early 2020, Crystal Bridges opened a satellite facility called The Momentary focused on visual and performing arts, culinary experiences, festivals, and artists-in-residence.
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About Crystal Bridges Museum
The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is actually a museum that Walmart built. No, seriously! Crystal Bridges Museum was established with the help of art and money donations from Alice Walton and the Walton Family Foundation. And, after beginning as a passion project for Ms. Walton, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has rapidly grown to become one of Arkansas’s most well-known museums.
Crystal Bridges Museum Of American Art
|11 November 2011|
|free garage and surface lot on site|
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is a museum of American art in Bentonville, Arkansas. The museum, founded by Alice Walton and designed by Moshe Safdie, officially opened on 11 November 2011. It offers free public admission.
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What To Expect At Crystal Bridges Museum Of American Art
Crystal Bridges has now been open since 2011 and this amazing museum has proven that the critics were wrong. In 2015 Forbes even included it in a list of art museums around the world entitled 13 Art trips you need to take.
Here is what you will discover on a visit to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
At Crystal Bridges Museum You Will Find Art Both Inside And Out
Crystal Bridges sits in the midst of 120 acres of forests and trails. Be sure and take a look at the trail maps. You will definitely want to walk the trails to both experience the beauty of the area as well as to see the art installations that are outside the walls of the museum.
Plus you will discover some wonderful views of the building which is a work of art itself. Tip: Wear comfortable shoes. Tip: Winters days can often be mild in Arkansas which means that winter can be a wonderful time to be outside in addition to spring and fall. Tip: Summers are hot and muggy so be prepared for that.
Take a look at the stone grotto that runs along the west side of Crystal Bridges upper pond. It is made of boulders that are covered in natural quartz crystals. These boulders were excavated from a mine in west central Arkansas, an area that produces some of the largest and clearest quartz crystals in the world.
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North Forest Lights Faq
- Why should I purchase my ticket ahead of time?Tickets can be purchased on-site, but your preferred times may be full. It is recommended to purchase your ticket in advance for you to participate at your desired time. Walk-up tickets are available if capacity allows and an additional $5 per ticket. Adult member tickets are limited to 2 tickets per member purchase.
- There is a time on my ticket. What does it mean?You may arrive at the North Forest Lights entrance any time during the 15-minute time slot on your ticket. You may stay until the experience closes.
- Are my tickets refundable?All ticket sales are final and non-refundable. The experience will be held rain or shine if the weather poses no threat to public safety. If the experience is canceled due to unsafe weather, then tickets will be refunded.
- Where can I buy a ticket?Purchase tickets online, through the call center at , or at the outdoor Guest Services station when you arrive at North Forest Lights.
- Can I visit the experience many times with the same ticket?Your ticket is valid for one visit to the experience only.
- Do you have group rates?Specially priced $18 group tour tickets are available for advance ticket purchases for groups of 10 or more adults. Call to reserve your tickets now at .
- Can the exhibition coupons given to school tour groups be used to get free entry for this experience?No, coupons given to school tour groups do not apply to North Forest Lights.
What To See At Crystal Bridges Museum Of American Art
You are immediately enveloped in pure creativity and art as soon as you arrive at Crystal Bridges. From the museum entrance, we descended the elevator to the main museum level for a full day of art-filled fun.
Pro-Tip: Ask one of the friendly Crystal Bridges employees about how to hear the fascinating echo effect in the main corridor when you first step out of the elevator.
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American Art From A Variety Of Artists
One writer with the Washington Post recently posed the question, Is Crystal Bridges, in rural Arkansas, the most woke museum in America? This is due to the fact that there are so many works of art in the museum that were NOT created by white men.
You notice this diversity particularly while perusing the gallery of recent and contemporary art, and it feelsorganic. Although Im certain that there has been purpose in every purchase, you get a sense that Ms Walton and her curators are simply selecting the best, the most representative American art regardless of who created it.
One American museum recently announced that it would only buy artwork by women during 2020. Thats nice. Im sure they have good intentions.
But at Crystal Bridges there is a feeling of of inclusivity that just islike they are organically inclusive because they actually recognize that good art comes from a variety of sources.