An Engaging Experience: Crystal Bridges Brings American Art to Life
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By Dave Woods | DiscoverNorthwestArkansas.com

Working at one of the premier museums in North America has its perks.

“It’s exciting,” said Beth Bobbitt, director of public relations for Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville. “It’s always changing and there are always new exhibitions coming. We’ve made a lot of updates in our North Forest area. The Forest Concert Series extends into the fall this year. It will be nice with cooler temps and new artists that will be performing. You can come and enjoy the artwork and stay for some music. We’ll have our food truck out there. It’s a really fun outdoor experience.”

Providing an experience is what Crystal Bridges is all about. The visitor experience can be tailored to fit about any desire.

Wooded walking trails are dotted with outdoor art. A food truck provides sustenance to visitors along the trail. A stylish restaurant, Eleven, offers delicious cuisine and, of course, the museum is filled with works by hundreds of American masters.

“We recently re-did two of our galleries,” Beth said. “The early American gallery and opened up the new modern gallery. There are artworks that are more historical in nature juxtaposed with contemporary works. We have a lot of loaned art that helps really contextualize the story of American art through the years.”

Beth points to a textile work by Nari Ward, a Jamaican born artist.

“When you walk into the American gallery you will be greeted with We the People across the wall in shoelaces,” she said. “It really sets the tone for the inclusive and engaging experience we’ve created with the new gallery design.”

The museum staff has embraced the opportunity to better reflect the complexion of American art and American artists.

“We want to include the perspective and provide different stories. You will see some interesting combinations made throughout the galleries. We also have (informational) labels in Spanish.”

Beth calls Crystal Bridges a “must see.” “We are a welcoming museum,” she said. “We waive the museum admission fee. It’s free to enjoy the four miles of trails and grounds covered in artwork and landscaping that reminds you where you are in nature and in the Ozarks.”

Go to CrystalBridges.org to find hours of operation, learn about programs and see a trail map.

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