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5 Reasons Why You Should Visit Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, Arkansas, yes ARKANSAS

In May 2017, a work by noted artist Jean-Michel Basquiat sold for a record $110.5 million.  That's not a typo.  A painting sold for $110,000,000.00!

I have long been a fan of Basquiat and frequently seek out his work when I visit museums.  Recently, during a visit to Crystal Bridges Museum I stood in awe of one of his works. 
Untitled by Jean Michel Basquiat
Basquait's bold, chaotic, untitled work of oil and spray enamel on the large canvas before me as I stood trying to decipher the graffiti like image. His work is one of my favorites and to think it along with several of our nation's most treasured works are housed in Bentonville, Arkansas.  Arkansas?  Yes, Arkansas.

Bentonville, Arkansas a small town in Northwest Arkansas is home to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.  The museum was founded by Alice Walton and designed by famed architect, Moshe Safdie.  Safdie designed the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City and many other notable structures.  Walton? Well, Alice Walton is the daughter of Sam Walton, founder of Walmart and an American heiress by every definition of the word.

Her vision in bringing world class art to an area many thought devoid of such is to be commended.  Arkansas?  Who would've thunk it?

I've visited Crystal Bridges several times and each time I learn more and develop a greater appreciation for Walton's vision.  Being able to visit FOR FREE... oh did I mention Crystal Bridges is free. 

1. Free admission to view the museum's permanent collection and a small admission to some special exhibitions. 
Dropped Bra by Tom Wesselmann,
Coca-Cola 3 by Warhol and My Uncle
Whiskey's Bad Habit by D'Arcangelo
2. The Outdoor Collection.  Crystal Bridges features an amazing collection of art from the moment you enter the complex and see the glowing LED lights of the Villareal's Buckyball on your left.  At dusk is when this amazing piece begins to shine and visitors appreciate it for the treasure it is.  Yet, there are 21 other notable works on the grounds including one of the 6 original proofs of Robert Indiana's iconic LOVE sculpture.  The original housed in my hometown at the Indianapolis Museum of Art.

Yet, it's Roxy Paine Yield which fascinates me most.
Roxy Paine Yield
The towering stainless steel piece sits at the entrance of Crystal Bridges and is photo worthy.  I sometimes sit and watch as the cars and coaches circle slowly around the driveway as passengers gaze at the beautiful structure.  It was raining on the day we took this pic and we watched as lightning flashed about the piece just drawn in by its majestic beauty.

3. The staff and volunteers are knowledgeable and full of tidbits.  The children and I stood around a gigantic marble statue in awe of its majestic beauty.  A docent  approached and told us the piece was acquired from Tulane University.  The piece was weathered and in desperate need of repair.  After a thorough cleaning and some much needed repair the piece was moved to Crystal Bridges where it sits in glory to be appreciated by all.
Randolph Rogers' Atala and Charles, on loan from Tulane University
4. The Volunteers and staff are AMAZING!  As an avid volunteer I appreciate volunteers who express a genuine love for that which they volunteer for.  During a recent visit, it was raining and my eldest grabbed the umbrellas and put them into a bag.  We had entered the exhibits and were in the building for well over an hour before a docent advised we couldn't bring our umbrella into the exhibit hall as it was too large.  We apologized.  She wasn't rude or anything but a tad stern to the kids as if they weren't the lovers of art that they are.  I stayed outside the hall so the kids could enter and a volunteer approached asking if I needed assistance.  I explained our situation and she apologized, reached into her pocket and gave me her pass to an upcoming preview night saying she wasn't able to attend and wanted to gift it to an art lover.  *heart melts*  
5. I hate I only said I'd list 5 reasons why you should visit Crystal Bridges because there are so many reasons this treasure is meant to be experienced.  However, I did say 5 so let me close with a recommendation for Eleven Restaurant.  Eleven features an affordable dining experience.  It's not just the delicious food, but the restaurant has ambiance and one heckuva view.  Yet, the food is definitely a masterpiece, whether it's the Sunday Brunch - I highly recommend reservations - a quick bite for lunch or a divine dinner. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday from 5-7 pm is a great time to visit Eleven Restaurant.  Eleven hosts a "Culture Hour" and offers discounted prices on food and beverages. 

Click here to check out one of my fave exhibits.

I wish I had listed 26 reasons instead of 5 there's so much more I'd love to share...
Alphabet / Good Humor by Claes Oldenburg
For more info on Crystal Bridges visit www.crystalbridges.org or follow @CrystalBridges on Twitter and wave if you see Three Boys and an Old Lady.

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