Bentonville, Arkansas, isn’t normally on the roster of American destination cities, but the new Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art has changed that. The 93,000-square-foot museum, designed by Moshe Safdie, consists of eight separate pavilions and two bridge-like galleries situated around and traversing a central pond, which feeds into a nearby lake. The architect planned the building as a combined experience of both nature and art, so outdoor landscapes and gardens are interspersed throughout the campus, which is situated at the center of a 120-acre forest lined with pathways.
The museum’s curving, seashell-like structures take their cues from their natural Ozark environs and showcase Safdie’s signature geometric style. Inside, the architect incorporated timber ceilings made of Arkansas white pine, but he also included modernist elements such as skylights, large windows, and concrete walls banded with horizontal wood flourishes.
The amply daylit facility will include paintings from Jackson Pollock, Jasper Johns, Norman Rockwell, Roy Lichtenstein, and many others, and the gallery spaces are designed to reflect the different periods of the curated pieces, which run from the 18th century to the present. The finished building itself might as well be considered a part of the museum’s permanent collection, too. ABQ