Visit Arkansas for the nature, the art, and the music – and it all can be found at Crystal Bridges Museum this summer! #SummerAtCrystalBridges.
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About Crystal Bridges Museum
Back in 2011, Crystal Bridges was the newest and most exciting location to open in Northwest Arkansas. Here we are 8 years later, and it is still proving to be quite the attraction. If you’re not familiar, Crystal Bridges (isn’t the name just enchanting?!) is a museum of American art. It is nestled in the Ozarks amongst rolling hills and natural landscapes. What I love most about the museum is that they chose to integrate with nature, instead of take it over. Seriously, how else would you build a museum in the natural state? It’s no wonder it’s such a popular location. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is hosting its #SummeratCrystalBridges event this summer – and you’re not going to want to miss out on the music, exploring the natural setting, and, of course, the art!
Music: Forest Concert Series
During the #SummeratCrystalBridges festivities, you can experience music while sitting under the trees. A hike up the North Forest Trail will lead you to the stage. Further exploration of the trail will reveal permanent outdoor art installations, as well as the summer exhibitions. We attended the concert of both Yarn and The Vine Brothers. The music echoes through the trails and reaches you wherever you are. You can chill out and watch the show, eat at the food truck, or wander around and explore the art. Be sure to take blankets or chair with you, and enjoy!
Art: Nature’s Nation & Color Field Exhibitions
Two popular visiting exhibitions that are at Crystal Bridges this summer are Nature’s Nation and Color Field. Both spark discussion about our relationship with nature and art as humans.
Nature’s Nation: American Art & Environment
Nature’s Nation is an indoor collection which is on loan by the Princeton University Art Museum. This collection presents art, architecture, and photographs by the likes of Frank Lloyd Wright, Dorthea Lange, and Thomas Moran. If you’ve seen my recent Instagram post, you’ll know just how much I love Frank Lloyd Wright’s work (touring a home designed by him is one of the very first blog posts I wrote back in 2012). They have a whole freaking home of his on display at the museum, but I didn’t even get to tour it. The summer exhibitions captured me and I didn’t want to stop exploring them. I’ll be saving the FLW house tour for my next trip.
Nature’s Nation dives into the complex relationship that we, as humans, have with nature. It chronicles 300 years of American art, and how we have seen the natural world and recorded it through art. My favorite part of the collection, which said a lot about the exhibition as a whole, was a collection of 3 paintings. These paintings were from different times, all depicting the Carolina Parakeet.
One painting (1700s) is an early rendition, flat in a nature, showing a more scientific perspective of the bird. The second painting (1800s) shows a more vibrant scene of these birds together. Last of all (2000s), a tribute to the death of the species, artist Walton Ford positions the birds in the likeness of a painting called “dying words.” Many birds gather around a fallen bird in the center, as if to hear his dying words as the species has gone extinct. That summed up what this collection meant to me.
We have had such a detrimental impact on the environment, but we have also cherished its beauty in many ways. Going forward, we need to remember this: less destruction, more admiring its innate beauty. If you have the chance, please take a guided tour of this exhibition before it leaves Crystal Bridges and returns to the Princeton University Art Museum.
If you hate that museums are so formal and don’t allow for any fun, the Color Field exhibition will definitely change your mind. It is a play on the term “color field,” which is a colorful art style that emerged in America in the 1940s and 1950s. Taken quite literally, it’s a lot of color out in the fields along the museum’s trails. This is art that you can touch, experience from all angles, inhabit, stand atop, and more. I played in the Color Field while listening to the artists at the Forest Concert Series. It was such a fun way to make an encounter with art.
I heard from some of the artists who designed pieces specifically for this collection during an artist panel at the museum. Listening to their interpretations and what inspired their work helped me understand the goal of this exhibit even more. If you ever have a chance to listen to an artist panel at Crystal Bridges Museum, you should definitely do so!
Art: The Permanent Crystal Bridges Collection
Of course, you can’t miss out on the permanent collection at the museum! The collection includes American art that spans five centuries. Josh and I really loved the modern art, but I’m a sucker for all things old, so I feel a deep connection to the earlier art pieces, too. The trails have outdoor sculptures and art, and there are pieces of art around every corner within the museum, even when it feels like you’re not near the “normal” collection areas.
More About Crystal Bridges
- It is FREE to enter and to see the permanent collection and explore the property.
- If you have little ones, you can take them to The Experience Art Studio where kids are free to make art, read, and play.
- Walk along any of the 8 trails that the site offers. Some require payment because of exhibitions set along them.
- Crystal Bridges offers educational classes all year long.
- You can host events there. I hosted my family reunion there in 2012! They provide guided tours and packed lunches, as well as a private room for you to dine.
Crystal Bridges’ blending and playful connection of art and nature is so effortless and awe-inspiring. The fact that they continue to present their patrons with more art showing how we impact the environment gives me hope that knowledge about the importance of living sustainable is being shared far and wide. When music is infused with this, plus the views of the overall architectural masterpiece… you understand just why #SummeratCrystalBridges is a trip you must make.