Bentonville – Northwest Arkansas’ Great Little Town

We visited Bentonville, Arkansas with a main goal of visiting the newly- opened Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.

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The museum is an impressive feat, knowing that building the collection began 2005 and the museum opened November 2011 – stocked with American Art.  Construction began in 2006.

The museum’s entrance is modest – hiding the largest part of the building that is hidden a few stories down.

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Visitors are greeted by this man-made tree that graces the front lawn.  Roxie Paine created this striking stainless-steel sculpture that changes color with the various times of day and weather conditions.   Just like the name says – 100% American Art.

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We especially liked this series of works by Etienne Leopold – who arrived in the US in 1855.  He worked with the Harvard College Observatory and the Naval Observatory after witnessing and drawing auroras in 1870.  

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This series is composed of chromolithographs – a technique very popular in the late 1800s, using several plates using with colors of pigment, resulting in varying light techniques.  The artist felt that the human eye was capable of picking up far more detail than the camera.

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No American Art museum would be complete without works by Andy Warhol.  A special exhibit with the Artist’s Nature Works. 

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And another classic American Artist – Georgia O’Keeffe.  Believe this was purchased by the Museum in 2011 for $44.4M.  The highest price paid for work by a Female Artist.  

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A new exhibit will be available to view later this year – the Frank Lloyd Wright Bachman-Wilson house.  Originally build in Millstone, New Jersey and part of his Usonian Style (Usonian – short for United States of North American).  The houses were designed for middle-class Americans – this one was threatened by constant flooding and acquired by Crystal Bridges in 2013.  

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Throughout the museum – inside and out – even in the eating space – is Artwork.  The Jeff Koons work, Hanging Heart (Gold/Magenta) is centered in the space.

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The building itself is as interesting as the collection it contains.  Designed by Architect Moshe Safdie, it sits at the base of a ravine with water flowing under and around the eight pavilions.  

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Many building materials were selected due to their ability to age.

The copper rood will turn a richer brown & oxidize.

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The red-cedar, locally harvested, wraps the building with bands & will turn a white-gray with time and weathering.

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Hand polished concrete, created with architectural forms to build the curves and angles of the structure.  An onsite concrete form shop was established to facilitate the construction.

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Sculptures are scattered throughout the exterior space.  This Keith Haring sculpture is a feature of the courtyard.

The collection is – as the name implies – strictly American Art.  Ms. Alice Walton, heir to the Walton fortune founded the museum & was determined to build it in Bentonville near her childhood home.  Ms. Walton created a lot of controversy with her selection of Bentonville for the museum.  Admission is Free – thanks, in part, to the many dollars you may have spent at Wal-mart.

While not an easy place to travel to, it is perfect of an RVer – an unusual destination tucked into the corner of a small Southern state.  A traveller with only a few vacation weeks might not gravitate here.  A person traveling with an RV should enjoy the museum and charming town of Bentonville –  as well as other attractions in the area such as Pee Ridge Military Park.

The charming town of Bentonville is another great attraction.  Good restaurants and the Walton museum are yours to enjoy.

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The Buffalo National River also makes a good stop – one of the few undamned rivers in the lower 48 states.

Bentonville was a great stop in the area.  The friendly Bentonvillans are very proud of their town and friendly community.  Lots of good restaurants (we attended a chef’s dinner during our visit) and a great downtown area.  

We stayed at the Lake Alberta RV Country Club – an RV park contained within a golf course.  It was fine for a short stay.  It was nice being surrounded by green in a commercial campground.

We would delete:  

Nothing!

We would repeat:

Longer visit to Crystal Bridges – one day is not enough to cover the interior and grounds of the museum.  The exterior could take more than a half day to explore.  Hiking trails wind through the property.

Longer exploration of Bentonville

Visit to Buffalo River on the way from or to Bentonville


9 thoughts on “Bentonville – Northwest Arkansas’ Great Little Town

  1. Two years ago we made it through Bentonville and Rogers as we spent about a week at Beaver Lake. That entire area was awesome and hoping to get back there again in 2016. Thanks for sharing!

  2. I enjoyed my tour at Crystal Bridge Museum. It is a hidden gem in Bentonville and I think the Walton’s spared no expense to make it magnificent.
    We stayed at Buffalo River NP a lovely park by the river especially in Fall.
    If you come back, you might want to check out Eureka Springs. And if in Fayetteville, be sure to park at Devils Den SP and again Fall is the best time.

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