Tucked into the corner of Bentonville, Arkansas is Crystal Bridges Art Museum. This world-class museum surprises visitors with acclaimed art, architectural beauty and easy hiking opportunities that feature outdoor exhibits.
We divided our visit into two separate days, due to museum hours and inclement weather. You can click HERE to visit the museums website for hours of operation and details on rotating exhibits.
Trails & Outdoors
We visited the property on a Tuesday when the weather was warm, sunny and beautiful. Though the museum is closed on Tuesdays, it was the perfect opportunity to explore the trails surrounding Crystal Bridges.
You can click HERE for information on the Crystal Bridges trail system.
You can find trail guides in the front of the museum and in little covered boxes placed throughout the grounds (you can also access it from their website via my link above). We pulled up to the front of the museum, picked up one of the trail guides, then drove our beast-of-a-truck up to the upper parking lot.
From this parking lot you can hop on the Orchard Trail and then make a left onto the Tulip Trail. The trails are well marked. The Tulip Trail will connect you easily to the Crystal Springs Trail and the Art Trail.
We took two hours and wandered the grounds, thoroughly enjoying the beautiful landscape and the shade.
Crystal Springs is a pretty little spot to pause and snap a photo.
The outdoor art was fun to look at and enhanced our walk…
This empty picture frame is a fun photo prop. I truly delight in this photo below…as these two are constantly standing on tip-toes to see who is taller. Actually, Brendan is constantly attempting to rise above his sisters height…in response, her almost perfect-posture is being stretched to the max. It makes me laugh when I look at photos of them at this stage!
The only thing that was poorly marked on the trail system, is the restrooms located at the top of the Art Trail. We spent about 45 minutes looking for the restrooms as we walked…and we found others that could not find them as well. For this reason, I am giving you a landmark, should you take these trails. Look for this artistic structure:
When you stand where my kids are (in the above photo), take that little trail off to the left, into the trees…and you will find the restrooms.
And – we encountered the most beautiful fungi – on the trail near the parking lot…
I do recommend bringing plenty of water. We always travel with an abundance of water, however it was a hot day and we consumed it quickly. I never did see a place to fill up water, or a drinking fountain, and had to purchase extra bottled water from a vending machine near the parking lot. Expensive water, but it provided head-balancing entertainment for these two:
In the end, this was a lovely afternoon of easy walking amongst some beautiful gardens.
Museum of Art
We visited the museum on a very rainy Friday and this museum was busy!
Upon entering we hopped in line and presented our zip code, in exchange for free admission to the permanent exhibits, thanks to the sponsorship of Walmart. Crystal Springs also hosts temporary exhibits and timed entry tickets to a beautiful Frank Lloyd House that is on the property.
I was intrigued to see my children so engaged in the colonial art.
I am certain that our history tour of the U.S. has fostered a heart for American history.
We really enjoyed seeing the work of several artists that we have studied over the years in our homeschool.
My children do not get as excited about abstract art…but they do enjoy a good mural-sized backdrop for photos!
Here you can see how the Crystal Bridges Museum forms bridges of art over the water…providing a gorgeous view of the landscape surrounding the art.
There is a lovely cafe and coffee shop, as well as a beautiful and extensive gift shop.
Our friends had recommended this museum when we were visiting the area. As I read the reviews on TripAdvisor (click HERE to read for yourself), I immediately knew that this would be a fabulous visit. Crystal Bridges is an elegant and distinguished American Art Museum that is well worth your time in this area.
We were delighted to find that we could enjoy the Museum of Art, as well as the natural beauty surrounding it, no matter what the weather might be.
In addition, this visit encouraged me as a mama. It was a beautiful reminder to stay the course and continue to present different aspects and forms of culture and education to my children. It is kind of like when you present food to a toddler. The child will typically not enjoy certain foods right away…you will have to introduce the item over and over, throughout the course of time. I remember my children not wanting to eat certain vegetables in those early years. Over time, and by introducing them repeatedly…prepared in various ways…all three of my children have grown to love most vegetables. I find the fine art appreciation to be a similar situation. Not all of us have an innate appreciation for art, music, poetry and the performing arts…for some this must be slowly cultivated. As I followed my children through this museum on this day, I witnessed this very thing. Not one of them asked to leave. Not one of them asked how much longer we had to stay. In fact, I was the one who had to scoot them along, so that we could pick up Chris from the airport. They were engaged. Each one scanning the art with their eyes. Inquiring minds reading the artwork descriptions. They were each eager to explore every area of the museum. My heart rejoiced in the realization that these kids were enjoying this visit! One of my goals in home education is to raise life-long learners…individuals who make the choice to learn, even when they do not have to…this visit blessed my heart immensely…we are headed in the right direction!