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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Named as one of the World’s Hottest Museums for 2014, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is the place to visit this summer.  Because it is free to view the collections, there’s no reason not to spend the day exploring the outstanding works of art on site.  A day at the Museum can be spent touring the exhibits or enjoying the 120-acres of grounds.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art can be found in Bentonville, Arkansas about an hour away from Eureka Springs.  Founded by Alice Walton, Crystal Bridges Museum welcomes all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature.  There are over 217,000 square feet of galleries.  The Museum also features a full service restaurant, coffee bar, gardens, gift shop and nature trails.

Admission is free to permanent exhibits with fees varying for temporary exhibits.  Permanent collections on site span five centuries with artists dating back to Colonial times.  One of the new exhibits currently at the Museum and running through next March is Born of Fire, Ceramic Art from Regional Collections.  Past temporary exhibits have included The William S Paley Collection, American Encounters: Anglo-American Portraiture in an Era of Revolution and Global Citizen: The Architecture of Moshe Safdie, designer of Crystal Bridges Museum.

A variety of tours are offered at the Museum.  There are self-guided and public drop-in guided tours that are both free.  Guided tours for groups are offered for $10.00 per person.  Options for groups include the Collection Highlight Tour, Inspiring Women Tour, Trail Tour, Architecture Tour and the Big Picture Tour.  Coming this September is the State of the Art Tour.  For more information on upcoming concerts, tours, events and workshops, click here for ticket information.

More than 3.5 miles of trails run through the 120-acres on site at the Museum.  The trails offer amazing views of the Ozark Mountains, a peek into wildlife in their natural habitat and outdoor artwork along the way.  The Art Trail is 1/3 mile and features sculptures, native plants and access to the amphitheater.  The Crystal Bridges Trail is 1 ½ miles long and runs through the Compton Gardens.  This trail also has access to mountain bike trails and the beautiful overlook on the campus.  Other trails to be explored include The Crystal Spring Trail, the Dogwood Trail, Orchard Trail, Rock Ledge Trail and the Tulip Tree Trail.

A must see building found on the grounds of the Museum is the Skyspace which can be found along the Art Trail and the Crystal Bridges Trail.  The Skyspace is a naked eye viewing chamber that has a round oculus in the roof allowing visitors to view the sky.  The space is open for sunrise and sunset with limited seating.  Visitors will also love seeing Buckyball, an outdoor, LED infused sphere that glows with more than 16 million different colors.  The sculpture is lit from 10:00am to 10:00pm.

Crystal Bridges Museum is a must-see attraction when visiting Arkansas.  Their hours of operation are Monday through Thursday from 11:00am to 6:00pm and Wednesday’s and Friday’s from 11:00am to 9:00pm.  Weekend hours are from 10:00am to 6:00pm and the Museum is closed on Tuesdays.  Complete the visit with a trip to the glass -enclosed restaurant, Eleven and a trip to the Museum gift shop.

Photo courtesy of Kevin Dooley

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