Bentonville, Arkansas is quite possibly one of the most interesting towns I've ever been to. I'm not kidding or being sarcastic. This little town (population 35,000) is home to the original store Sam Walton started many, many years ago, a very freaky hotel-museum right off the town square and Crystal Bridges Museum. Some of my coworkers told me that we HAD to check out Crystal Bridges, so when we found ourselves in Northwest Arkansas this weekend, that was the first thing we did.
Alice Walton, the daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, founded this museum in 2005 and it is amazing. It houses over 400 pieces of art in it's permanent collection, covers over 120 acres of beautifully maintained land, and does all of this at no charge to the general public, thanks to Wal-Mart (for the foreseeable future). The positive impact of Crystal Springs on the local community and the local economy is impressive. I don't care much for Wal-Mart, but the Walton Family Foundation has my complete respect and admiration for what they've accomplished.
My first impression upon walking into the main galleries were that the floors and ceilings were really beautiful. Never mind $490 million dollars worth of paintings and statues, but the features of the building itself were gorgeous.
|Each gallery had huge windows that overlooked the stunning grounds.|
|Even the ceiling in the gift shop was amazing.|
I'm not much of an art buff, but out of the 400+ pieces the museum housed in their permanent exhibit, there were quite a few that stood out to me.
This one, Kindred Spirits (1849) by Asher Durand is the most expensive piece of art in the museum, costing Alice Walton about $35 million dollars. The docent told us that she bought it at an auction in New York City and was battling someone who didn't want the painting in hick town, USA. I guess they were no match for Walton money, and she won.
This Mark Rothko painting is the second most expensive painting in the museum. Apparently it cost them around $25 million dollars, purchased after the museum came under criticism for having no post war pieces. Quick, someone get me a canvas!
Apart from the absurdity of the prices of some of these paintings, this was one of my favorites simply due to it's age. Indians of Virginia (1675) by James Woolridge blew my mind. This canvas is older than our country. Older than the Salem Witch Trials, the state of North Carolina and the Declaration of Independence. That is just so freaking cool to me.
There were a few I found interesting for really random reasons. I have only every heard of James McNeill Whistler because of Frasier. Since I've pretty much watched nothing but Frasier for two years, this painting just made me giddy.
A few other were interesting simply because I actually recognized the name, like these first three by Norman Rockwell.
|Rosie the Riveter (1943)|
|Sick Puppy (1923)|
|Her Hero (1943)|
These three by Georgia O'Keeffe:
|Feather & Brown Leaf (1935)|
|Mask With Golden Apple (1923) and Small Purple Hills (1934)|
These two by Andy Warhol:
|Hammer & Sickle (1977)|
|Dolly Parton (1985)|
And Summetime (1894) by Mary Cassatt:
My least favorite part of the museum was the 20th century gallery. Modern art does not appeal to me at all. I don't understand abstract art or the appeal. Some of these pieces look like the "in process" part of painting my house.
|This looked like shelving that they used to sell at Ikea.|
|I could do this. Oh wait. Check out my entry way. I did.|
Beyond the paintings, they have a very cool collection of sculptures, both inside the museum and on the art trail outside.
This was without a doubt the craziest thing I've ever seen! Holy crap, I thought he was real! I very tentatively approached him, because I was so concerned that he was real and something was wrong with him.
We had an amazing time. I'm not an art lover, so I didn't have very high expectations, but it was so enjoyable. The best part was the temporary George Washington exhibit, but the whole museum was incredible.