Rarely does a person with great genius and expansive vision work together with an ideal supportive philanthropist to bring his free-hand sketches and architectural models into reality. That magic occurred when Moshe Safdie, the Israeli born architect, worked with Alice Walton, the daughter of Sam and Helen Walton of Walmart fame to transform a steep mountain ravine, woods and stream in her hometown of Bentonville into the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Architect Moshe Safdie and founder Alice Walton’s vision aligned to create a magnificent structure that harmonizes art, architecture, and nature in a 120 acre Ozark forest. As sunlight reflected from the ponds and the Arkansas pine beams, the museum seamlessly intertwines with its surrounding environment.
Turning Moshe Safdie’s drawings into a three-dimensional reality of concrete, wood, glass and metal took more than 350 builders, craftsmen, engineers and architects working from 2006 to opening day November 11, 2011. (Note: 11/11/11)
Two bridge-like structures, anchored in the bedrock of the flanking hillsides and held up by suspension cables, span the ravine, damming the Crystal Creek in two places to form two large pools. The museum complex is made up of eight buildings. Each building is designed to provide vistas onto the surrounding water and landscape. Each has a special function --- housing enclosed sun-free box-like galleries, an education center, administrative offices, and of course, the very necessary museum gift shop and cafeteria. Whether enjoying Arkansas chicken salad or sipping café latte, one is pleasantly ensconced in one of the glass-enclosed bridges with views of the ponds below and the sky above.
This graceful complex, carved into a wilderness setting, houses an extensive collection of American art beginning with colonial portraits and ending with colorful abstract shapes of the modern period. Walking through the chronologically displayed collection provides an amazing lesson in American art as well as our shared American history. And we benefitted by having a guided tour led by a Museum education, Zev Slurzberg, formerly of the National Gallery. A journey to Bentonville to experience this museum is well worth it!
|Enclosed box gallery under arched glass bridge|
|Cafeteria on Bridge|
|3,000 lb. Sculpture Hanging in Center of Cafeteria|
|War News from Mexico, 1848 by Richard Woodville|
|Man and Wife by Milton Avery|
|Cellophane Wrapped Hard Candy Rug|
|Garden of Eden|