Thursday, May 30, 2024

Crystal Bridges and a Weather Disaster

 I am on the email list of a museum in Benton County, Arkansas called Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.  It isn't just any museum, though.  I know this because my spouse and I had the pleasure of visiting it in 2013.  Most of the post below was written several years later.

But the storms that hit much of the interior of the United States in the past several days weren't kind to the area, though, as I found out from a museum email blast. Some seven tornados hit Northwest Arkansas and nearby parts of Oklahoma on May 26. As of right now, the extensive outdoor trails are closed.  The schools of two nearby cities had to end their school years early.  That damage appears to have been from straight line winds.  Crystal Bridges had to cancel a number of their programs.

But the museum also feels it has a mission to bring comfort to the people of the area.  To quote:

"Crystal Bridges aims to offer a respite to those who seek comfort, safety, and community bonding," Emma Claybrook with Crystal Bridges said. 

Admission to the previously priced exhibit Exquisite Creatures will be free until June 3. They also plan to offer free artmaking activities for people of all ages. 

"Expanded, free, drop-in artmaking activities for people of all ages will be available, a hopeful resource for families impacted by early school year closures in Bentonville and Rogers," Claybrook said. "

Arkansas, the land of art?  Yes. 

Walmart, which is headquartered in Bentonville, has done much with this museum of art.

There isn't just folk art.  But fine art, the museum quality art of people such as Arthur Dove, Gilbert Stuart, John Singleton Copley, Asher Durand, Thomas Cole, and others.  Best of all, general admission is free. (Some exhibitions are not free, but they will be free temporarily in the wake of the storms.)

In the Northwest Arkansas city of Bentonville, where the giant chain Walmart got its start, the family of the late Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton opened a world class art museum called Crystal Bridges in 2011.  It is sponsored by the Walton family - so, when you shop at Walmart, think of this place as your reward.

It is worth seeing.  You can get right up close, and sketch if you want.  It is a dream for those who love to study art.  I am not any kind of art expert, but I enjoyed the little bit of the exhibit I saw.

When we visited back in late August of 2013, we were just slightly overwhelmed.  Yes, a blogger who grew up in New York City, overwhelmed by an art museum.

Can you imagine retiring in this area, as many have, and having something like this in your backyard?

The museum is nestled into a ravine cut by Crystal Spring (hence, the name) with the spring in the middle.

 It really fools you - you think the building is on multiple levels, but (we were assured by a docent) it is only due to the topography.
A Friday concert being set up, near the spring.
This is one of the many outdoor sculptures (it was in the 90's F, and we just didn't have the stamina after a full day of sightseeing to explore the extensive grounds.)  But tomorrow, we hope to explore some of the trails. (We have never returned, and now they have been extensively damaged).

This is one of the art works I enjoyed.  It is called "Winter Scene in Brooklyn" by Francis Guy.  Photography (without flash) is permitted and I hope it is OK to post this.  This scene is from the early 1800's and I loved the scene.

There are even two George Washington paintings by Gilbert Stuart, the man who created the portrait that is on the American one dollar bill.

Arkansas - land of surprises.  The rural Benton County I remembered from the 1980's has grown tremendously.  It was amazing in 2013.

I'm sure it is just as amazing now.

I wish Benton County, Arkansas a speedy recovery as they recover from the May 26 storms.


  1. ... we can thank Alice Walton for the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

  2. One tornado would be bad - seven are a disaster.

  3. I checked out their website. Quite fabulous architecture. While my planning field trip days are long gone, I always look to see what facilities offer. There's are amazing! Free, with guided tour, workshop and even including lunch!

  4. I can't imagine experiencing tornadoes like that. Sounds horrifying.

  5. I'm glad the museum is ok and has reached out. I would not want to live in tornado alley

  6. We tend to think that "culture" as with art museums and symphony orchestras are limited to the larger cities, but that's not really the case. I bet we can find all sorts of interesting museums in all sorts of states we wouldn't normally consider.

  7. Sounds like a fascinating place. I hope they recover from the storms,

  8. This is horrible news to learn about, especially knowing we have a good bloggy friend who lives there. I hope all is well with he, his wife, and any other family. Thanks for sharing a bit of history and your fondness for that part of the country. Prayers to all affected by Mother Nature's wrath!

  9. I'm glad the museum was spared. It looks amazing!


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