Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Crowned Best in Arkansas

This year marks the 13th anniversary of Bentonville’s Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, whose aim is “to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature.” It nicely balances those worlds, inviting visitors to explore both within, where they may learn about American art over the centuries, and outside, where the Ozark landscape beckons.

This year, Southern Living readers selected it as the South’s Best Museum in Arkansas, and a look at its breathtaking collection of art and the natural beauty that surrounds it will explain why.

The History of Crystal Bridges

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Crowned Best in Arkansas

Crystal Bridges was founded in 2011 by Alice Walton, a member of Walmart’s founding family, and is located on 120 beautiful, forested acres. Admission is free for all guests.

The grounds include many notable features, including Crystal Spring, which inspired the museum’s name; a glass-enclosed bridge; a restaurant, Eleven; a coffee bar featuring beans from local roastery Onyx Coffee Lab; a library with over 50,000 reference volumes; and approximately 5 miles of nature trails.

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The Crystal Bridges Collection

The museum’s 3,500-item (and growing) collection can be found both indoors and outdoors. Dale Chihuly’s vibrant glass sculptures nestle into the woods that surround the structure, while Louise Bourgeois’s Maman, an enormous spider, makes a striking gateway.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Crowned Best in Arkansas

In the galleries, you will find notable works of art from all genres and media. In addition to paintings and sculptures, previous years’ displays have included photography, fabrics, and clothes.

Norman Rockwell’s depiction of Rosie the Riveter is on show, as are paintings by Amy Sherald, John Singer Sargent, Roy Lichtenstein, and many more artists. Crystal Bridges also cares for the Bachman-Wilson House, a Frank Lloyd Wright house that was transferred from its original home in New Jersey to Bentonville and is now an important component of the museum’s collection.

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Crystal Bridges’ New Additions

Across town lies The Momentary, a companion museum housed in a repurposed former cheese factory. In addition to displaying magnificent modern visual art, it also presents live music, performance art, and educational activities.

It’s also an excellent area to get a drink or eat. The Tower Bar has floor-to-ceiling windows that offer a bird’s-eye perspective of Bentonville, a city where art and nature coexist.


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