Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Located in the heart of the country in Bentonville, Arkansas, Crystal Bridges explores the unfolding history of America by collecting and exhibiting outstanding works of art that illuminate our artistic heritage and enrich our understanding and appreciation of our nation and ourselves. With 120 acres of native Ozark forest, Crystal Bridges’ grounds invite visitors to enjoy the natural environment as a continuation of their museum experience. The Museum’s distinctive architecture immerses visitors in the landscape, while three miles of nature trails encourage exploration and reflection.
Backstory and Context
Crystal Bridges was founded in 2005 by the Walton Family Foundation as a nonprofit charitable organization for all to enjoy and is known as the Art Museum Walmart Money Built. Philanthropist and arts patron Alice Walton chairs the Museum’s board of directors. The building was designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie and opened to the public on November 11, 2011.
Crystal Bridges, located in the middle of the Ozarks, is surrounded by 120 acres of forests, garden sculpture and walking trails and is named for Crystal Creek, which feed the ponds around the museum. Consisting of eight buildings nestled in a wooded area across a flowing creek, is a work of art in itself. A series of pavilions nestled around two spring-fed ponds house galleries, meeting and classroom spaces, and a large, glass-enclosed gathering hall. Guest amenities include a restaurant on a glass-enclosed bridge overlooking the ponds, a Museum Store designed by architect Marlon Blackwell, and a library featuring more than 50,000 volumes of art reference material. Sculpture and walking trails link the Museum's 120-acre park to downtown Bentonville, Arkansas.
Crystal Bridges’ permanent collection spans five centuries of American masterworks ranging from the Colonial era to the current day. Included within the collection are iconic images such as Asher B. Durand’s Kindred Spirits, Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter, and Andy Warhol’s Coca-Cola — each reflecting a distinct moment in American artistic evolution—as well as major works by modern and contemporary American artists, including Georgia O’Keeffe, John Baldessari, and James Turrell. The permanent collection, which continues to grow through a strategic acquisition plan, is on view year-round and is enhanced by an array of temporary exhibitions.
Crystal Bridges provides year-round programming for all ages, including lectures, performances, classes, and continuing education for K-12 teachers. More than 45,000 schoolchildren visit the Museum each year as part of the Willard and Pat Walker School Visit Program, which offers schools reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses associated with a school field trip, including transportation costs, substitute teachers, and lunch. A new initiative to develop high-quality distance learning opportunities for students and teachers is currently under way.
An award-winning app, available free for both Apple and Android devices, features audio tours of current and past exhibitions, and many of the Museum’s lectures and gallery talks are available in Crystal Bridges’ iTunes U site.
The mission of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature.
There is NO COST to view the Museum’s permanent collection, which is on view year- round. General admission to Crystal Bridges is sponsored by Walmart.
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Arkansas: The natural state. Accessed January 26, 2018. https://www.arkansas.com/business/crystal-bridges-museum-of-american-art/93507.