The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art structure is as much a piece of art as the art within the museum. The Crystal Bridges museum is meant to fuse with the Ozark nature that surrounds it and it succeeds in that mission. Comprised of concrete, cedar and copper the museum was designed by architect Moshie Safdie.
I thought it fascinating that Moshie Safdie was inspired by the architect Faye Jones who built the beautiful Thorncrown Chapel which I had stopped at earlier in my trip.
History of Crystal Bridges
To me the history of the museum was as fascinating as the museum itself. The museum was founded by Alice Walton, the daughter of Alice and Sam Walton the founder of Walmart.
Alice was interested in art at an early age and began painting landscapes. She purchased paintings using money from the five and dime where she worked. This was the first business Sam Walton opened. As years went by and she came into money, she purchased fine art and wanted others in the Bentonville area to be able to have the chance to see and experience art firsthand.
That was the force behind the developement of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. She is quoted saying, “To me, people everywhere need access to art and that’s what we didn’t have here and that’s why Crystal Bridges is so important. It’s important that it be located here.”
The way the museum was developed is amazing. The museum is located in a ravine and integrates two created spring fed ponds that are spanned by two bridge structures. We were at the museum a couple of hours and never really saw the whole thing. You would need a day and probably a couple visits to really see it all.
Usonian House at Crystal Bridges
Along with the architecture of the museum, there is also a Frank Lloyd Wright Usonian house that was built and constructed in 1954. It was known as the Bachman-Wilson House and the house was dismantled and reconstructed on site from its original location in Somerset County.
Besides touring the museum itself with a group of travel writers on a press trip in the Eureka Springs area, I was able to go inside the Bachman House and admire the simple beauty of Wright’s work. Being a Wright fan, I admired the fact that they preserved this home and saved an architectural treasure.
Art is both inside and outside of the Crystal Bridges Museum. In a paper that Beth Bobbitt, the Relations Manager gave us, she shared that the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art focuses on the intersection of art and nature with new exhibitions and sculptures.
Outside visitors can enjoy the chance to walk and enjoy the beauty of nature that surrounds the museum.
My friend Rose Hammitt that traveled with me to Bentonville enjoyed the outside of the museum as much as the inside. The outside sculptures were pure fun like Luis Alfonso Jimenez’s Vaquero and the huge bronze pig sculpture. Perhaps our favorite sculptures were the women siting on the bench purse in her lap and arm stretched across the back of the bench. Maybe it was a sculpture of Alice herself. I don’t know.
Inside, the ceilings soared and the art, some called to me, some did not, but that is what art is all about. Some is for you, and some is not, like music, we each have our own taste, our own choices, but thanks to Alice Walton, we have a chance to visit and be exposed to a selection of American art in Alice Walton’s own backyard in a beautiful setting. Art in architecture in the beautiful Ozarks is truly where nature and art combine.