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Discover American art at Crystal Bridges Museum


Courtesy Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Bentonville, Arkansas
Nestled on 120 acres on the edge of downtown Bentonville, Arkansas, the sparkling white-and-glass Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is a startling contrast to the lush Ozark forest that surrounds it.

The museum opened in November 2011 and has several thousand pieces in its collection. Crystal Bridges displays as many as 500 works at any time, and the museum will rotate new pieces into the contemporary gallery this spring, said media relations manager Diane Carroll. “American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell” will also be on display through May in the temporary exhibit space.

Three of the museum’s most recognizable works often get the most reaction from visitors, Carroll said: two iconic portraits of George Washington and Asher Durand’s “Kindred Spirits.”
“Those iconic Americana works seem to be perennial favorites,” she said, “but there are many of those moments throughout the museum.”

In addition to the museum’s collection of Colonial, 19th-century, modern and contemporary pieces, the building itself is an experience. Architect Moshe Safdie designed the modern structure as a series of pavilions that sit on and stretch over two man-made ponds fed by Crystal Springs.

Visitors are surrounded by priceless art in the galleries, but in the spaces between, walls of windows provide expansive views of the blue ponds and green forest canopy.

“The building really is an experience itself,” Carroll said. “Most people want to absorb it and take it in for a while. It’s a constant intertwining of art and nature.”

Crystal Bridges offers group tours for 10 to 60 people, and the museum recently added a guided trails tour of the grounds that boasts three and a half miles of walking trails dotted with sculptures.