One of the great things about Walmart being based in Bentonville, Arkansas is that the Walton family has contributed so much to the culture of the city. Perhaps the crowning jewel is Crystal Bridges Art Museum, which (thanks to Walmart) is absolutely free to visit (although special exhibits may charge an entrance fee).
Read on to see my three favorite things at this museum.
Plexus No. 27 (1973)
This beautiful piece by Gabriel Dawe floats overhead as you take a stairwell up or down to the next level. Unless you look up, you’d completely miss it. And that would be a damn shame because it turned out to be my favorite piece in the whole museum. I want a house someday where I can display something like this, or an Alexander Calder mobile.
Even with the lights shining through it, it’s still a beautiful piece of art. Amazing what this artist did with just colored thread and steel hooks and imagination. I would guess he produced some fairly interesting early attempts trying to realize his vision. In the end, he got it so right.
The explanation for this piece says “Dawe’s approach reminds us that each viewpoint derives from a unique set of circumstances and our shared challenge is to be open to multiple points of view.”
Never a better time to thing about that than the world in 2022.
Dress Impression with Wrinkled Cowl, 2007
This glass sculpture by Karen LaMonte is simply breathtaking. I saw two of her pieces several years ago at the Corning Museum of Glass and was captivated by her work. To find another piece here as I moved between galleries was such a wonderful surprise. That’s kind of what I like about museums, you just never know what you’ll find and what moments of delight you’ll experience when you step through their doors.
This piece is outside a gallery, in a sitting area that has big windows and natural light. Even on the overcast and sometimes rainy day of my visit, the glass still glowed as if lit by an interior fire.
Holy Grail, 2016
The most unexpected find, and one that was just gorgeous in its natural state, was this massive quartz cluster, found in 2016 in Blue Springs, Arkansas. The display notes that this may be the “single greatest quartz cluster found in America.”
So there you have it, my three favorite things from my visit to Crystal Bridges. When was the last time you went to a museum? Maybe it’s time…
Museums are wormholes to other worlds. They are ecstasy machines. Follow your eyes to wherever they lead you…and the world should begin to change for you.
9 thoughts on “Crystal Bridges Art Museum, AR”
Hi Annie, I’m so glad you commented on our blog, because it reminds me to check in on you. (For some reason, although I’ve signed up a couple of times, I don’t get notifications.)
Anyway, your blog is, as always, beautiful and thought-provoking. I’ve wanted to visit the Crystal Bridges Art Museum and completely forgot about it, so thank you for reminding me. The work by Karen LaMonte is gorgeous. Like you, we’ve seen her sculptures at the Corning Museum, and also at the De Young in San Francisco. It’s always a delight to find an artist that I like represented in museums across the country. And that quartz crystal is outrageous! Hope you’re managing to stay cool during this heat wave. I look forward to more of your grand museum tour, and I’ll go back and read the ones I’ve missed!
One more comment, if I may: small towns often have amazing collections. We were camping at China Lake Naval Air Weapons Station (active duty and retirees can camp on bases) and there are 3 lovely small museums in nearby Ridgecrest CA. They feature local cultural and natural history and they are well supported by volunteers and funders. And there’s a great barbecue place in town. But if it’s an “alternate Friday,” the town will be quiet as the base employees have every other Friday off and businesses go quiet then too.
I’ve been visits small town museums a lot this year 🙂 You can find them via my Adventures page, in the listing for Art, Architecture, and Museums.
Denver Art Museum is now comprised of the original, fortress-like structure built in the 1970’s, and two new wings that soar into the sky. The collection of NW Native Art, from totems to beaded garments, is by itself worth the price of admission. Also, walk the neighborhood and enjoy the Michael Graves-designed central branch of the Denver Public Library. I don’t really love Denver for its horrid traffic, but a visit to downtown on a non-game day weekend date can be inspiring.
Looks stunning! Not the first impression I got when you said it was culture provided by Walmart, so it was a pleasant surprise.
Did you happen to visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman-Wilson house while you were there?
I did see the outside but due to torrential downpour and some flooding issues around the property, there weren’t tours that afternoon. Still, the back side is all windows so I could see in pretty well 🙂
I (Kellye) am enjoying following you on your travels. The Crystal Bridges Art Museum is somewhere I have wanted to visit for a long time. Mike and I both appreciate beautiful art, and the Walton family has certainly given Arkansas and the rest of the US a wonderful place to explore. I would love to see the Gabriel Dawe piece in person! Thank you for sharing!