Unlike most founders of private museums who become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of their immense collections and find themselves in desperate need of space outside their homes for their works of art, Walmart heiress Alice Walton simply wanted to realize her desire to build a museum of American art in her home town of Bentonville, Arkansas.  She chose noted architect Moshe Safdie to design the building and then she, with the help of experts in the field, went on a shopping spree to fill it inside and out with 400 paintings, sculptures and works on paper.


The recently opened Museum consists of eight linked pavilions situated around two creek-fed ponds in a spectacular ravine setting that provides 50,000 square feet of gallery space and houses a vast multi-million dollar collection of American art from the 19th century to the present.  Between pavilions are areas filled with comfortable chairs and sofas in which to relax and peruse the many art books available for that very purpose.


The pavilions sit in 120 acres of forests and gardens, land that belonged to the Walton family in Bentonville, the site of Alice Walton’s father Sam’s first retail store that opened in 1951.  There are six trails around the Museum for walking and bicycling, as well as a cliff-like overlook to the buildings below.  According to its mandate, the Museum ties together American art and history to the experience of its spectacular natural surroundings.  It is a rare pleasure to view and admire these rarely, if ever, seen works of American art in such a magnificent architectural and natural venue. 


Among the Museum’s highlights are: The Colonial Period through 1860; The 19th Century that includes a magnificent portrait of the Robert Louis Stevensons; The Modern Era from 1900 – 1945; Contemporary Art, 1946 to the Present with works by Jasper Johns, Roy Lichtenstein, Andy Warhol, Robert Rauschenberg and Jackson Pollock.


Following the viewing of the stunning art and architecture, a delightful walk along the 11/2-mile Crystal Bridges Trail connects to the Art Trail and leads directly to downtown Bentonville.


The Museum is open Mondays, Thursdays, Saturdays and Sundays, 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM; Wednesdays and Fridays, 11:00 AM – 9:00 PM; closed on Tuesdays.

Admission is FREE.   crystalbridges.org





One Response to “JL Exclusive – The Private Museums – Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art”

  1. Jack Harvey | 08.17.12 at 10:45 PM said…

    I look forwarded to visiting this amazing place. Combining art,architecture and nature walks/bike rides is genius – a rare opportunity to stimulate all of one’s senses!