Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Moshe Safdie, Architect
600 Museum Way, Bentonville AR 72712
Visited April 27 & 28 2013
This museum is amazing in many ways. It is amazing that it is in a small town in northwest Arkansas. It is amazing that it is out in such a natural setting , spanning the river – twice, and amazing in it’s almost unbelievably difficult detailing. Moshe Safdie really put his heart into this elaborate design. This I do not find surprising. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Safdie while in Architecture School. He was one of the most interesting, modest and quietly passionate architects I have met. You could just sense his confidence, quietly hidden in his modest demeaner.
This building was clearly a no expense spared building. The pavilions that span the river are complex cable structures, with wood arched beams, spaced with skylights between, and clad outside with copper is truly an amazing composition. The pavilions on the river banks have concave roofs, again with copper cladding. They are curved in plan and have walls with horizontal banding alternating between concrete and wood. This is actually a large collection of independent pavilions, and must have cost more than most major city museums. You can walk the trails through the grounds of the museum, and there is a great overlook across the river on the side of the hill where you can view the entire complex.
Don’t be deceived when you drive up from the main entrance. all you can see at the main entry is a modern colonnade. The rest of the building is 4 floors below in the river valley. Walking up to the entry, you see the rest of the complex sprawling beneath you. It is a great progression to the elevator, and then you take the elevator down to the ground level and start your walk through the galleries.
I highly recommend it for both the architecture and the collection. Check out my “Interiors” post for more details.
The Museum’s Website
The Architect’s Website
Dine in the Museum: Eleven at Crystal Bridges
Stay Nearby: 21c Museum Hotel – Bentonville
Dine Nearby: The Hive – Bentonville