July 03, 2013 Edition

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Crystal Bridges changes
face of Northwest Ark.

John Bland

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville is changing the face of Northwest Arkansas.

Even though Crystal Bridges is a multi-million dollar project, I think it is a good example of how good things can follow, once the momentum gets going. I am thinking of the revitalization efforts in downtown Walnut Ridge, including the creation of Beatles Park, new businesses on Abbey Road and West Main Street, the Guitar Walk at Cavenaugh Park and the renovation efforts to create bed and breakfast-style lodging.

Laura Jacobs, director of communications for the museum, shared noteworthy facts about the museum at the Arkansas Press Association's SuperConvention held last week in Eureka Springs.

Here are some of Jacobs' facts about Crystal Bridges.

  • The museum unites the power of art with the beauty of nature.

  • It gives a visual history of our country.

  • The 120-acre campus includes 3 1/2 miles of trails.

  • After opening on 11-11-11, 650,000 people had visited the museum by the end of 2012.

  • Some 700 museum volunteers have logged 24,000 hours of service.

  • Original museum members include 7,750 households.

  • Revenue has amounted to $15,169,845 (67 percent of which comes from a Walton Family endowment), while expenses have totaled $15,185,405.

  • With the opening of Crystal Bridges, the Bentonville area now has some 22 hotels, two bed and breakfast establishments, 134 restaurants and 17 art galleries.

  • The US Airways magazine features a 30-page spread on Northwest Arkansas.

  • Admission to the museum is free, while a nominal fee is charged to view special or temporary exhibits.

  • A temporary Norman Rockwell exhibit, viewed by 110,000 guests, ended on May 27.

  • The "American Encounters" exhibit, with works normally housed in the Louvre in Paris and in Atlanta, is on display through Aug. 12.

  • Two exhibits called "Angels and Tomboys" and "Surveying George Washington" will be displayed June 29 - Sept. 30.

  • "The Artists' Eye: Georgia O'Keeffe and the Alfred Stieglitz Collection" will be shown Nov. 9 - Feb. 3.

  • The Willard and Pat Walker School Visit Program provides transportation and lunch funding to schools to promote education.

  • A total of one million visitors, including many from foreign countries, are expected to have visited the museum by this fall.

  • The Skyspace sculpture on the Art Trail is an awe-inspiring sight to see at dawn or dusk.

  • A $23 million children's museum is being constructed at the Crystal Bridges' entrance and is scheduled to open in 2015.

  • Crystal Bridges employs 130 people, not including security personnel.

  • Gallery guides undergo intensive training.

  • Alice Walton, the museum's founder, is very involved in the museum and visits often.

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