Crystal Bridges is a Museum of American Art that opened in Northwest Arkansas in 2011. Located about 30 minutes north of Fayetteville (home to The University of Arkansas), the museum is off the beaten bath, surrounded by forests.
I’m pretty sure all of the art museums I’ve ever visited have been in cities, so it’s unusual for sure, but also really beautiful. The drive into the museum is gorgeous. While we were there in May, the flowers on the grounds were as lovely as the museum itself.
In fact, it’s hard to say what I loved most about Crystal Bridges. Was it the surrounding walkways in the woods, the architecture of the buildings or the art collection?
All three are equally AMAZING!
The surrounding walkways and paths run through the woods, over ponds and around outdoor sculptures.
The museum doesn’t open until 11am, but the grounds are open from sunrise to sunset, so Mother and I arrived early and spent at least an hour walking the trails.
There are trail maps available throughout the park grounds, and parts of it are paved and wheelchair accessible. We saw several young families with their trikes and bikes making their way through the woods or playing at a park that is also just outside the museum.
I could have spent the entire day just in this part of Crystal Bridges. So beautiful!
Before going, I had heard most about The Architecture Of Crystal Bridges.
Designed by architect Moshe Safdie, the building is a cluster of structures with long windowed hallways that run on the outsides of the exhibition halls within them.
Happy, Clean Lines + Natural Light + Warm Wood Tones = Distractingly Awesome Design!
Seriously, I kept stopping outside the exhibitions to stand in front of these windows or stare up at the ceilings.
In the middle of the buildings is a pond and an outdoor eating/playing area.
If I lived in Northwest Arkansas, I would set up shop at one of those tables on a weekly basis for sure.
The Art Collection at Crystal Bridges was what I had come to see.
It is has been said that it is an unbelievable collection for my little home state to possess, so I was anxious to wander the halls and take in the paintings.
The collection is organized by time period, beginning with American Art from the Colonial Period and progresses to Modern Pop Art. I loved how easy it was to flow through the museum’s collection chronologically. It just made sense.
Way too many favorites to name, but here are just a few highlights.
The Reader by Mary Cassatt
People In Other Rooms by (a long time favorite) Jacob Lawrence
Antartica by Richard Estes
Night Zag Wall by Louise Nevelson (This is a huge sculpture of painted wood scraps that the artist saved from her father’s wood shop. LOVE!)
At the end of the tour, you come out into this beautiful space. At one end is a coffee and dessert bar and at the other is a spot to order up a tasty lunch.
Just in time! We were ready for a little yum after our day at the museum.
Shrimp and Grits.
Greek Salad Platter.
I have to say that I am a little jealous of Northwest Arkansas Folks, because they can wander into this little haven on a whim.
Oh, and maybe the best part of all is that a visit to the general collection is COMPLETELY FREE. This is not a sponsored post and I totally visited Crystal Bridges all on my own because I had heard such great things, but I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that my Arkansas pride swelled a little after being there.
You could visit Arkansas to go camping in a nearby state park, and then make a side trip to a world class museum. Plus you can get in a little hiking while you’re there. That’s kind of amazing, y’all!
I hope to go back one day and take my kiddos.
Have you visited Crystal Bridges? Did you love it?