Crystal Bridges

 

About five years ago Alice Walton decided to build a museum. Wouldn’t it be nice to have that much money at your disposal that you can start a museum? 😉 As the daughter of Sam Walton, she can do just about anything she wants that merely requires millions of dollars.

The good news for the rest of us is that museum is free. Sure, you can spend money at the restaurant or in the gift shop or toss in a donation, but all they ask is for your zip code. Sweet!

Anyway, Crystal Bridges is architecturally interesting, built as it is over Crystal Springs in Bentonville, Arkansas (north of Fayetteville). Its collection is American art from colonial times to the present. So a lot of North American history is left out, but it is not completely ignored. It’s a small enough collection that one day is sufficient for exploration. We spent 4-5 hours there; some people get in and out in an hour, though that seems mighty limited.

The guided tour we joined pointed out 10 different paintings (or sets of paintings) and sculpture depicting strong women. Some of these women were the subjects and some were the artists. It was interesting to notice the change in style over various periods. The iconic Rosie the Riveter, brawny and tough, contrasted with another propaganda painting of a smaller woman who was doing lathe work at a steel mill during the same period. The message was that even ordinary women could do this kind of patriotic work while so many men were at war.

After the Civil War, women artists became more visible and we haven’t looked back!

The museum is on beautiful parkland on which sculptures invite perusal along with lovely flora and fauna. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon or a day!

 

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