Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville, Arkansas

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The drive to Bentonville from Dallas was one of my favorite legs – up Texas Route 75, by Plano, into Oklahoma and by Durant High School, a brand new sprawling edifice rising out of nowhere. Googling it I see Barack Obama spoke there on one of his election tours. Further into Oklahoma, every town ended with a ka – Tushka, Atoka, then wow, Eufaula Lake on the Canadian River. These gems make being a tourist worth every ache and pain that sitting in the car for 3500 miles brings about. Pontoon boat sales. Families with campers. Fishing.

Route 75 turned into Route 69 and we hung a right onto I-40 towards Fort Smith, then north on what Audi Navigation told us to take, I-540.  Never saw it and only now Googling it, I find out that back in 2014 it was renamed 49. So how often DOES Navigation update itself?  Apparently, not often enough.

Interstate 540 begins at U.S. 271 in southern Fort Smith and travels northeast through Fort Smith to Van Buren and Interstate 40. The route was truncated on April 21, 2014 when signs for I-540 north of I-40 at Alma were removed as part of a 30-day project to resign the I-40-to-Fayetteville/Bentonville stretch of I-540 as I-49.

By the time we got to Crystal Bridges, it was afternoon. Parking lots were packed. Packed to the gills. Upper and lower. Packed. We circled and circled and circled then had to park way back at the entrance to the property, even then, that lot was nearly full. A shuttle bus took us to the museum. My first take was the place was too crowded and it was a mistake to come mid-day, rather than be there first thing in the morning.

Outside the entrance, a silver tree, as SoundBeacher taught us, a work by Roxy Paine.
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There’s no better way to explain Crystal Bridges than through this excellent interview of Alice Walton in 2011. It’ll tell you all about the history of the museum, its making, and shows much more than I photographed. The heat was OPPRESSIVE so walking the acres of trails was not happening. My sister and her husband saw CB in November when, she said, it was not at all crowded and the grounds were fun to walk. Take note if you plan to visit. July is not a good time.

Long lines to by tickets. The permanent exhibits are free but the temporary exhibit, Chihuly, was $20 per person. One could take a free tour of the Frank Lloyd Wright house but the first time they had for us to have a FREE tour was 5:30pm. We opted to pay $10 pp to have a guided tour at 3:30. For a large family, that’s a hefty price tag. Granted, there’s plenty to enjoy free, just NOT when it’s 300 degrees in the shade.

The American Art wing, the permanent exhibit, had some amazing masterpieces.
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There was a room dedicated to Roy Lichtenstein. It was funny listening to the older patrons saying they didn’t like his work at all. I do.

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The most interesting room was dedicated to regional Indians, many Choctaw, photos from the days as true warriors and heroes among their people.
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Sad how museums today feel the need to justify the old Indian culture.
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This work is a modern day take on Indians. I don’t get it but I didn’t like it.
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What was striking is that driving up through Oklahoma, the Choctaw image we saw was their casino culture. Huge casinos in otherwise small towns. Mini casinos at gas stations. THIS is more what most people think of Indian culture today. Groan. To me, it’s shame that their culture as warriors and proud chiefs has become politically incorrect to applaud.
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The Chihuly exhibit was seen one Chihuly exhibit seen them all and while there were some nice pieces, I’m not going to post 100 pix of them. I’ve seen enough Chihuly exhibits to have been only moderately impressed.
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I’d like to see CB in another season, autumn or winter, when there aren’t thousands with you, large groups of teen campers, huge families with strollers and gramps in a wheelchair. That’s really good for the museum and for local tourism, but took away a bit from our overall experience of enjoying the architecture and art. But glad we went nonetheless.

Of course, the crowing glory of the day was seeing the Frank Lloyd Wright house, for which I’ll do a separate post.

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9 thoughts on “Crystal Bridges Museum, Bentonville, Arkansas

  1. Chihuly is overrated and overexposed. Agree with ‘seen him once is enough’ statement. I don’t think he does his own work anymore anyway – he oversees it but does not actually blow the glass himself. Do you know?

  2. Pretty neat museum. I had a chance to page through the photos, earlier in your trip, on their site. I am glad to hear it is well attended even if it does mean rubbing elbows with the hoi polloi now and again. Gotta say, those structures that form the bridges look a tad funky to me (almost if Safdi was acknowledging the Arkansas roots with trailer park imagery).
    Watched the YT video with Alice and think she has philanthropy right.

    1. It’s not that hoi polloi bother me, I am one, it’s that there were so many at once!! 🙂

      As for the architecture of CB, it’s not my favorite either. It seemed “muddy”, whatever that means and I’m not even sure what I mean. Maybe it felt dirty, or not sparkly, totally opposite of the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth. I saw more insects imagerey than trailer park but in any event, it didn’t wow me. It’s hard to see it in its entirety because its nested and compartmentalized.

      Yes, Alice gets philanthropy right. I wonder what kind of philanthropy I’d do if I had her money. Hey, maybe I’d not give a dime away!

      1. By the way, I think my saying trailer park was an undeserved negative connotation. I simply meant this:

        If I had her money, I’d make that Twitter guy an offer he couldn’t refuse – they keep suspending and shadow banning my favorite accounts!

        1. The Twitter dude Jack is a commie pinko. He hates conservatives and doesn’t understand humor.
          With Sean Spicer no longer Press Sec, I’m more bummed that Sean Spicier’s parody account will fade away. Will there be The Mooch? Sanders parody account needs to step up its game.
          I see Gregory Elfwick (sp?) got permanently suspended. You follow him?

        2. Yes. Geoffrey Elfwick got popped a couple of days ago, came back briefly as Jodie Elfwick (some kind of transgender thing) and then she got suspended. I’m hoping Katie Hopkins will point the way to his newest re-birth.
          I hope there’s a Mooch account, he could take street savvy, New York Italian laceration of the libs to new heights.

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