The Norman Transcript

Local news

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
Local news
  • Police rule out homicide in Norman woman’s death

    Norman Police Capt. Todd Gibson said Tuesday they have eliminated the theory of homicide after a Norman woman was found dead in her home Monday afternoon. “We’re moving in a different direction with the investigation,” Gibson said. “It’s ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Moore resident lands in new home 14 months after tornado

    Moore — She crawled from the rubble of what used to be her home. The neighborhood was destroyed. It was the afternoon of May 20, 2013, and Jamie Baker was homeless....

    July 30, 2014

  • Additional details come to light in Campus Corner incident involving Sooner recruit

    The 911 call from Pickleman’s Gourmet Cafe early Friday morning brought forth more details from the incident that has Oklahoma running back Joe Mixon under investigation for an alleged assault....

    July 30, 2014

  • Shelter construction ongoing; residents voice concerns

    A regular quarterly meeting of the Animal Shelter Oversight Board prompted Norman residents to speak up about more than just a photo release issue Monday night involving Friends of the Animals of Norman volunteers and the city of Norman. ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Police log

    Police responded to the following incidents Monday: · 8:20 a.m. larceny report, 2000 block of West Lindsey Street · 9:04 a.m. stolen vehicle, 3400 block of Bart Conner Drive · 9:11 a.m. larceny report, 1200 block of Ed ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Felonies filed

    The following people were charged with felony counts in the Cleveland County Court Clerk’s Office: · Casey Dawn Sanders, 37, obtaining or attempting to obtain a controlled substance by forgery or fraud · Amiremad Nayebyazdi, ...

    July 30, 2014

  • OU officials confirm student died in car wreck

    University of Oklahoma officials confirmed Tuesday that recent car wreck victim Taylor Witcher was an OU student in the Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication. Witcher died after a three-car collision around 12:35 a.m. ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Crime briefs

    Woman charged after Sunday shooting A Norman woman was charged after shooting several rounds toward a residence Sunday. When officers found her, she exhibited signs of intoxication and had drugs on her, records show. Teresa Renee Haas, ...

    July 30, 2014

  • Medical marijuana initiative behind voter registrations push in the state

    OKLAHOMA CITY — Medical marijuana may be the state’s newest gateway drug — to voting....

    July 30, 2014

  • Body 1 Police identify woman found dead Monday

    Norman police have identified a woman found dead in her home at 2202 Donna Drive Monday afternoon. Police responded at 1:25 p.m. to the residence of Cassandra Thompson, 30, after receiving a report that she had not shown up for work ...

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo