The Norman Transcript

Headlines

November 23, 2012

Crystal Bridges a delightful link to American art

NORMAN — The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark., is celebrating its one-year anniversary through November.

A recent trip there found the 245 mile drive from Norman to be well worth the effort. It’s a stunning complex of pavilions surrounded by native forest. Paths carved into the wilderness are dotted along their lengths with a dozen steel and bronze sculptures including ones by Robert Indiana and Mark di Suvero.

Between the structures where the main collection is housed are mini-lakes fed by natural spring water.

The Museum’s conception began years ago with Alice Walton who is among the wealthiest people in the world. She marshaled backing from her family’s foundation whose financial strength comes from the Walmart retail empire. Although widely hailed internationally after opening as a marvel in the Ozarks, the process for amassing the collection was not without controversy.

A 2005 New York Times headline tellingly reads, “A Determined Heiress Plots an Art Collection.” Not surprisingly, Ms. Walton throwing her money around wasn’t looked on kindly in all circles.

Litigation was even involved between Crystal Bridges and Fisk University over a group of paintings that artist Georgia O’Keefe bequeathed to the historically African-American institution in 1949.

Fisk was in dire financial straits and Walton had the bucks to spend which could be viewed either as a rescue or crass opportunism.

A compromise ownership of the art was ultimately arrived at. Endowments from the Walton clan for Crystal Bridges have been close to a billion dollars. The collection itself is priceless both in terms of artistic appeal and American historical significance.

Perhaps most important to the visitor such as myself is that admission to the museum is free. It’s open every day except Tuesdays, Christmas and Thanksgiving.

What Alice Walton did was to accumulate among the finest collections of art in the world. This fact is reflected in Crystal Bridges’ collaboration agreements with the National Gallery of Art, Musee du Louvre in Paris and the High Museum of Art in Atlanta. All eras of American art from Colonial to Modern are displayed in chronological order. Because the museum is enormous, the works are not crowded together, making them a pleasure to view even when a lot of other visitors are around. Both natural and artificial light are used effectively. The museum was designed by Boston architect Moshe Safdie and New York engineer Buro Happold.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Headlines
  • Water Reclamation Wastewater upgrade under way

    Norman’s $63 million water reclamation facility upgrade is under way. Once known as a sewer plant, the facility’s moniker reflects the current trend in water reuse and treatment that’s crossing the United States....

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Okla. City museum shows pigeons in positive light

    OKLAHOMA CITY — It wasn’t long after Lorrie Monteiro started her new gig as curator of the American Pigeon Museum that she started to wonder, “What have I done?” Monteiro had experience working at museums but knew almost nothing about the ...

    August 1, 2014

  • Bicycle Racks Five more bike racks installed downtown

    Public art was installed Thursday along east Main Street in historic downtown Norman. Five colorful art pieces aren’t just for looks. The musical notes, dream catcher, fork and spoon, scissortail flycatcher and a bent arrow also are bike ...

    August 1, 2014 1 Photo

  • Meet the Sooners on Saturday

    Meet the Sooners Day will be Saturday at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. The annual, free event kicks off preseason practice and gives University of Oklahoma fans an opportunity to interact with their favorite players and ...

    August 1, 2014

  • OKC man charged with rape

    After being brutally raped and kidnapped for four days, a woman escaped and called 911 last week, which led to charges against an Oklahoma City man. Zohaib Sahibzada Dastgir, 28, was charged with three counts of first-degree rape, two ...

    August 1, 2014

  • One killed when shipping container falls onto vehicle

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma City police say one person was killed when a shipping container was knocked from an Oklahoma National Guard vehicle and landed on a pickup truck....

    August 1, 2014

  • Target taps outsider as CEO for shakeup

    NEW YORK — Target is bringing in an outsider as its CEO for the first time as the retailer fights to redefine itself to American shoppers....

    August 1, 2014

  • Parks officials set to fog for mosquitoes in Norman

    Norman parks and recreation officials will fog for mosquitoes Saturday night in northeast Norman....

    August 1, 2014

  • New natural gas plant coming to south central area

    OKLAHOMA CITY — A new plant projected to process 200 million cubic feet of natural gas per day is coming to the Grady/Stephens county area....

    August 1, 2014

  • Motorists should watch for pedestrians

    With another school year approaching, the Norman Police Department wants motorists to be mindful of the increase in pedestrian and vehicle traffic. During the month of August, the Norman Police Department will concentrate resources in the ...

    August 1, 2014