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A Day at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Crystal Bridges surrounded by water

One of America’s most amazing art museums is in Bentonville, Arkansas.  Yes, Arkansas!  Here are seven things you can expect when you visit the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art…

Art lovers expect to find phenomenal art museums in major metropolitan areas like New York, Boston, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, Chicago, and DC.

But if you love art, architecture, or the great outdoors, then you won’t want to miss the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.  

Yes, Arkansas.

Via the Walton Family Foundation — yes, that Walton family — Alice Walton founded the Bentonville art museum that opened in 2011.  Alice, who is Walmart founder Sam Walton’s only daughter and currently ranked 17th on Forbes’ list of the world’s billionaires, is said to have contributed $317 million of her own money into Crystal Bridges.

Although there is no fee to view the art museum’s permanent collection, I paid full price to explore the special exhibit at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. But, I always share my honest opinions, no matter who’s covering the tab.

Have You Been to Crystal Bridges?

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Here are seven things you can expect when you visit the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art:

1. No Admission Fee

Sponsored by Walmart, there is no cost to visit Crystal Bridge’s permanent collection, but there may be a fee for special exhibits, programs, and other events. Our visit to Crystal Bridges museum was prompted by the Chihuly in the Forest special exhibit, and there was a cost associated with that experience.

Related Article:  Visiting a Chihuly Exhibit – 5 Things to Know Before You Go

Entrance to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Fun Fact:  Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opened on November 11, 2011 or 11/11/11.


2. Might Cause Arachnophobia

Maman, the giant spider sculpture, outside Crystal Bridges

Standing in the courtyard that connects the main entrance and the gift shop is Maman, a 30-foot tall spider by Louise Bourgeois. While travelers will find Maman in other locations around the world, from Canada to Qatar, the Maman sculpture at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville is the only permanently installed version in the entire United States.

Sage Advice:  See how Maman was installed at Crystal Bridges

3. An Organized Walk through American Art History

Crystal Bridges’ galleries are displayed by time period, from the Colonial Era to modern times.

4. Amazing American Artists

All of the artists featured in the permanent collection are US citizens, although some of the art displayed may be of or inspired by experiences abroad.

Some of our favorite artists with works on display included:

Georgia O'Keeffe

Crystal Bridges museum has a rare sculpture by Georgia O’Keeffe on display, Abstraction, a white-lacquered bronze piece.

It also features the world’s most expensive painting by a woman, Georgia O’Keeffe’s s Jimson Weed/White Flower No. 1. purchased for $44.4 million back in 2015.

Louise by Georgia O'Keeffe Painting at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville AR

Norman Rockwell

While many people envision J. Howard Miller’s We Can Do It poster when they hear the phrase “Rosie the Riveter”, Crystal Bridges displays Norman Rockwell’s interpretation of Rosie created a year after Miller’s version. While she noshes on a sandwich over her lunch break, Rosie can be seen stepping on a copy of Hilter’s disturbing manifesto, Mein Kampf.

Rosie the Riveter Painting at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville

All of the women who inspired “Rosie” were amazing, and I’m glad that my daughter had both the fictional Rosie and real-life record-setting Georgia O’Keeffe to inspire her during this outing.

Related Article:  5 Tips to Help Kids of All Ages Appreciate Art Museums

George Segal

There are several Segal pieces at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, our hometown art museum in Kansas City, so we immediately recognized Depression Breadline as one of his works of art.

Depression Breadline by George Segal

Andy Warhol

Born Andrew Warhola, Andy Warhol is one of the most recognizable artists from the Pop Art movement. Crystal Bridges proudly displays several of Warhol’s pieces in its permanent collection and featured additional works by the Pop Art great in a special exhibition showcasing animals in art.

Andy Warhol Coke Bottle Painting at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville AR

This view of Andy Warhol’s Coca-Cola bottle, with Tom Wesselmann’s Dropped Bra in the foreground, demonstrates how Warhol’s piece would look if it happened to be hanging in my teenage daughter’s messy room. Well, if you imagine a few other clothes surrounding the dropped bra…

I really loved these ten, bright Pop Art animal pieces by Warhol that were framed together in the special exhibit featuring animals in art.

Andy Warhol Pop Art Animals at Crystal Bridges

And here is a close up of the rhino that caught my eye after recently visiting Kendi, the baby black rhino at the Cincinnati Zoo.

Pop Art rhino by Andy Warhol

5. The Building is Another Work of Art...

The three, connected glass and wood buildings of Crystal Bridges art museum were designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie. The museum is surrounded by spring-fed water and is absolutely gorgeous!

Other famous works by Safdie include the Salt Lake City Public Library and Kansas City’s Kauffman Performing Arts Center.

Sage Advice:  If the weather cooperates, give yourself ample time to explore the sculpture garden outside the museum.

6. ...and So Are the Grounds

The beautiful museum complex is surrounded by 120 acres of forest. Explore the Crystal Bridges trails and sculpture garden from dusk to dawn and during museum hours. There’s also ample space for outdoor concerts and other events.

Sage Advice:  Download a Crystal Bridges trail map before you go!

Fly's Eye Dome

The Fly’s Eye Dome on the grounds of Crystal Bridges is the creation of R. Buckminster Fuller, an American designer and inventor who worked on a series of geodesic domes as a way of providing economical, efficient housing.

There were three prototypes developed, a 12-foot, a 24-foot, and a 50-foot version.  The 50-foot version is the structure on display on the grounds of the Crystal Bridges museum.

The circular openings of the fiberglass Fly’s Eye Dome allow air and light to enter without compromising the integrity of the structure.

Frank Lloyd Wright House

Round out your visit with a tour of the Bachman-Wilson House designed by architect Frank Lloyd Wright.  The house was originally built along the Millstone River in New Jersey, but was carefully moved to the museum in 2015.  

Tickets to the Frank Lloyd Wright house are limited, so be sure to plan ahead!  We arrived at Crystal Bridges right when it opened on a Saturday morning, and all of the tickets for the day were already gone. 

View photos of the Bachman-Wilson House courtesy of Crystal Bridges Museum here. And, to learn more about this famous architect, visit the Frank Lloyd Wright home and studio in the Chicago area.

7. Highly-Rated, Delicious Restaurant

Louise is the biggest foodie in the family and has been since she was a toddler.  She may be the only kid I know who turns up her nose at fast food. Lucky for all of us, Eleven offers high-quality, tasty, upscale dining at a reasonable price at Crystal Bridges.  

Fun Fact:  The restaurant, Eleven, is named in honor of the museum’s opening date on November 11, 2011.

Eleven Restaurant at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville AR

Place your order at the counter and then grab a table and the incredibly friendly staff will bring it out to you on real plates with real silverware.  We shared a portobello sandwich and a bowl of butternut squash soup, and it was just perfect!

Sage Advice:  You can download the brunch, lunch, and dinner menus for Eleven here.

To Visit the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art 

Where is Crystal Bridges?

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is located at 600 Museum Way in Bentonville, Arkansas.

When is Crystal Bridges open?

Crystal Bridges hours are:

  • Sunday and Saturday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm
  • Monday from 11:00 am to 6:00
  • Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 11:00 am to 9:00 pm

Crystal Bridges Museum is closed on Tuesday.

How much are Crystal Bridges tickets?

Thanks to the generosity of Walmart, there is no cost to visit the permanent collection at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville.

Have You Visited the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art?

What did you do and see during your visit? What did you enjoy most about the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art? Share your experience in the comments section below!

Crystal Bridges - Pin 2 - JPG
Crystal Bridges - Pin 3 - JPG
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Hiking trail in Arkansas in fall


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8 thoughts on “A Day at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art”

  1. marcia cholerton

    hopefully you have been to the art museum in Oklahoma City. His display there is breathtaking. You’ll especially like the huge piece at the front door.

    1. I have not, but OKC is just five hours from where I live in KC and I definitely need to spend more time there!

  2. This is fabulous! Being the culture vulture that I am, I’d spend the entire day there. And I totally agree that the building is a piece of art in itself. As a matter of fact, since I’m seeing so much great art, I enjoy a certain interaction between the works and the venue: Outdoor exhibitions that play with the sceneries, indoor shows in dialogue with the venue….aaah, I need a good exhibition a-s-a-p!

  3. This looks so great. We found that Arkansas has many hidden treasures just waiting to be discovered. Of course, an added bonus is that the museum is FREE! Who doesn’t love that?

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