December 6, 2020

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas brings together an incredible range of American artists from five centuries ago until now in a building designed by Moshe Safdie
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Museums

Crystal Bridges Museum of Art

The Crystal Bridges Museum of Art in Bentonville, Arkansas is one of the most beautiful museums I’ve ever been to.

Crystal Bridges Museum of Art

Its vibe is very in-tune with Arkansas’s state official title - the natural state’ being set down in a cavern between two hills, naturally built around a large lake and surrounded by beautiful forests and nature trails.

Roxy Paine tree
In fact, the museum was named after ‘Crystal Spring’ - “a natural spring on the museum’s wooded site that feeds into the museum ponds—and from the unique bridge construction incorporated into the building design” 
Crystal Bridges Museum of Art

The museum was founded by Alice Walton and designed by the architect Moshe Safdie and opened in 2011. 

Robert Indiana sculpture

The art doesn’t just stay in the Museum. Sculptures and architecture are scattered throughout the grounds, so if you’re visiting, bring your walking shoes, your dog, and enjoy the trails. 

Unfortunately because of Covid, the Frank Loyd Wright house was closed the day we visited, but normally you can tour this famous home. However, we still go to see sculptures by Robert Indiana, Dale Chihuly, George Segal, and many more. 

George Segal Sculpture

They even have a Maman spider by Louise Bourgeois, which my dog was not the biggest fan of (she was trying to protect me). 

Maman spider by Louise Bourgeois

“Crystal Bridges’ permanent collection spans five centuries of American masterworks ranging from the colonial era to the current day.” (source

Dale Chihuly glass sculptures

Like many museums, they have a permanent collection of works (which are free to view) and rotating special exhibition space. Photographs by Ansel Adams and other notable photographers are currently on view until January 3rd. 

Crystal Bridges Museum

After exploring the outside grounds we had lunch a the cafe under a large glass Jeff Koons heart sculptures. You almost feel like you’re eating inside of a large ship with the way the water reflects off of the wooden beams. 

Jeff Koons heart sculpture

Video of my Visit

Permanent Collection

The building design by Moshe Safdie is absolutely stunning, giving you almost constant views of the water from the various galleries. 

Leonardo Drew

My favorite part of the exhibit is the contemporary wing.

Kerry James Marshall painting to left, Amy Sherald painting to right

Even since I was there in February of 2020, they’ve had several new acquisitions from the likes of Amy Sherald and Vanessa German which was exciting to see. 

Amy Sherald painting
Kerry James Marshall painting
Close-up of Kerry James Marshall work
Vanessa German
Nathaniel Mary Quinn

It's rare to see a museum which such an incredible range of artworks, and I'm particularly impressed by their contemporary works which consists of many emerging artists that I see regularly in New York Galleries.

Loie Hollowell
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Morris Louis
Sam Gilliam
Adolph Gottlieb

Every-time I see this work by Helen Frankenthaler below I'm blown away by how different it is to her later works. Here her work is much heavier handed, almost picasso-like instead of light and airy like her later abstract works.

Helen Frankenthaler
Jasper Johns flag on left, Jim Dine sculpture on right
Jim Dine
Tom Wesselmann
Wayne Thiebaud
Dan Flavin
Ellsworth Kelly left, Ruth Asawa basket
Louise Nevelson, left
Louise Nevelson

During Non-Covid times they also have a Yayoi Kusama infinity room (see my Instagram below from February). 

My dad and sister really enjoyed the Modern Art wings in addition to the Ansel Adams exhibit. 

Nari Ward
My dad and sister

I wasn't familiar with Devorah Sperber prior to visiting the museum, but I was really impressed with her installation where she utilized spools of thread to create pixilated versions of classic artworks like the Mona Lisa or the Last Supper.

Devorah Sperber
Devorah Sperber

When looking at the 'paintings' through the glass ball below, it looks exactly like the orginal. Such a clever piece!

Devorah Sperber

This work by George Segal, below, is one of my favorite within the museums permanent collection.

George Segal
Alexander Calder

Who did it better? My dad or Jim Dine. I think my dad did pretty well.

Jim Dine Sculpture

Ansel Adams Exhibit

Ansel Adams Exhibit
Ansel Adams Exhibit

Below is one of my favorite Ansel Adams work in the exhibit, it features the San Francisco bay before the golden gate bridge was built.

Ansel Adams
Ansel Adams exhibit

Another thing I liked most about the Ansel Adams exhibit was their incorporation of other photographer’s works who have been influenced by Adams over the years.

Catherine Opie

They also included videos of these artists discussing how he influenced them which I found really engaging. Catherine Opie gave a fascinating interview, and it was cool to see works by her, Trevor Paglen, David Benjamin Sherry, and more. 

Catherine Opie
Trevor Paglen
David Benjamin Sherry

I wish we’d had more time to walk the trails but it was the last stop of our trip after visiting The Momentary the previous day and staying at 21c museum hotel. I guess we’ll just have to go back soon :).

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