Martin and I recently visited Crystal Bridges Museum in Bentonville, Arkansas. I don’t even know where to begin but I’ll start with something we noticed at the end of our first day’s visit. At the end of the day, neither Martin and nor I were tired. No aching “museum back;” no sensory overload; no pressing need to head to the hotel to rest.

When I mentioned this to a staff member, I learned that Moshe Safdie, the museum’s architect, purposefully designed Crystal Bridges to eliminate museum fatigue. Indeed. Moving from gallery to gallery Martin and I reveled in views of the 120-acre park that surrounds the museum. We alternated enjoying the art with a walk along the wooded trails. Scultpures by Dale Chihuly, Deborah Butterfield (that’s her horse sculpture on the left), Robert Indiana, and others dotted the trail.

We toured the Bachman-Wilson House, one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian homes. Acquired in 2014, the New Jersey home was dismantled and rebuilt within the Museum’s grounds. It was beautiful, peaceful, and quirky. Our guide p0inted out the sightlines unifying outside and inside and shared that the architect coined the phrase “carport.”  It seems Wright despised garages because they eventually became filled with stuff. Taking his inspiration from the French term porte-cochere or covered portal, the carport was the architect’s way of preventing any future pack-ratting. 

I could go on and on, mentioning an expansion that is underway to increase gallery capacity by 65%, a school program that reached 60,000 students last year, and the utterly serene Crystal Bridges Library housing 50,000 volumes. But instead, I’ll simply urge you to check out and plan a visit.

From Crystal Bridges Museum website: 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. Founded by philanthropist and arts patron Alice Walton, Crystal Bridges is a public non-profit charitable organization. The museum opened on November 11, 2011, and welcomes all with free admission.

Photos courtesy of Martin Darvick.

Rosie the Riveter by Norman Rockwell; an outside view of the museum; view of the Bachman-Wilson House