Why should museums be stuck in cities? New Art Museum in Arkansas opens

Posted filed underMuseums, USA.

“Call the Ozarks “middle America” if you have to, but don’t call it middlebrow. The gob-stopping $1.2 billion Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opens next Friday in Bentonville, Ark. Funded by the Walton Family Foundation and stocked by Alice Walton, daughter of Wal-Mart’s founder, the place is heaving with works by artists from John Singer Sargent to John Baldessari. You can take all those MOMAs, I’m happy here”, writes Holly Finn for The Wall Street Journal.

Set among the hickory and tulip trees on 120 acres of woodland, Crystal Bridges is an impious, spiriting place to find A+ art. “Physically, we’re not a big white neo-classical temple on a hill,” Don Bacigalupi, the museum’s rail thin and whip-smart director, told me during a sneak peek. “You discover the museum in the ravine here, not above your head.”

Sophisticates gripe, of course. They say such a top-drawer collection should be more accessible. What they mean is, it should be more accessible to them. But why should art be sandwiched in cities? City folk may go to more opening parties, but they’re no more culture hungry. Often less. In the meantime, talk here in the local bar is all about the new museum. Wal-Mart itself has just pledged $20 million to it, making admission free for all. (The company seems to like experiments—the new Wal-Mart Labs, its e-commerce ideas team, is based in Silicon Valley.)

People knew Ms. Walton herself was stealthily collecting great American art from the Colonial era on, but they didn’t know how great. Here is Warhol’s Dolly Parton, Chuck Close’s Bill Clinton, Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter. Over there is Devorah Sperber’s “After the Last Supper,” made of 20,736 spools of thread and viewed through a crystal ball. And at the entrance is my favorite: “Yield,” Roxy Paine’s giant steel sculpture of a neuron, taller than the trees.

There’s also James Turrell, Kara Walker and Louise Nevelson. It’s like going to your reunion and liking everyone.”

Read on at The Wall Street Journal.

Video: 40/29 Gets Sneak Peek Of Crystal Bridges Museum

CBS Video: Walmart heiress Alice Walton has for many years had a dream of building a world-class museum of American art in her hometown of Bentonville, Arkansas. Now, since she is the world’s third-wealthiest woman, Walton used the money to make this dream a reality. Martha Teichner reports.