When art goes missing at Crystal Bridges

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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville

I’ve long known that museum art is emotionally moving. I just didn’t think about it moving physically within a museum.                                                        

Sure, museums acquire new art, host temporary exhibitions or lend-out pieces, and that changes what’s on the walls. But, I didn’t realize that many pieces in the permanent collection might not be where they were the last time I visited, until Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opened 30 minutes north of my hometown of Fayetteville.

I visit quarterly, at least, and have found that my favorite art pieces sometimes are moved or go missing. 

art at Crystal BridgesFirst, it was those magnificent ladies - three life-size portraits of imposing women that had introduced themselves to me hanging side by side. One day I was shocked to find they weren’t there. When I did find them, they were no longer together! They’ve since moved on me more than once, and now I know to look for them sprinkled throughout the galleries. 

"The Fortune Teller"
"The Fortune Teller"
Self Portrait, Stuart Davis
Self Portrait, Stuart Davis

When I seek “Rosie the Riveter,” by Norman Rockwell, I never know which gallery I might find her in. I always check on “The Reader,” by Mary Cassatt and "The Fortune Teller,” by Thomas Wilmer Dewing, (in my favorite frame, by the way), and they rarely venture far. But often on the move are “Kindred Spirits,” by Asher B. Durand, and “Dolly Parton,” by Andy Warhol.

A wall of self portraits I always find intriguing has been broken up. The individual portraits shuffle around, which keeps me on my toes searching for the man whose face sags with a terrible sadness, and the guy who seems to have dark deeds on his mind.

Art at Crystal Bridges Museum of American ArtI’m drawn to “Along the Shore,” by William Trost Richards. It used to hang at eye level, the waves crashing toward me so lifelike that I could almost hear the whooshing of waves and smell the wild, briny sea. It holds a magic ready to pull me into the water with Edmund, Lucy and Eustace as we’re transported to Narnia in the C.S. Lewis book, “The Voyage of the Dawn Treader.” 

But, at this writing, it hangs high above my head on a wall of paintings embracing the theme “Nostalgia.” I now see it in a whole new light, evoking a wistful yearning for my own family trips to the beach.

Maman in the courtyard at Crystal Bridges
Maman in the courtyard at Crystal Bridges
Maman near the woods and trails of Crystal Bridges
Maman near the woods and trails of Crystal Bridges

Just recently I found myself looking for Maman, a 30-foot spider sculpture that greeted visitors in the courtyard but has now crawled off near the water and woods of the museum grounds. And I don’t even like spiders!

At first, I hated it when my favorite pieces were not where I expected them to be. But, I’ve learned to embrace the change. Now I even look forward to the hunt. It’s one of the many reasons a trip to Crystal Bridges always brings a fresh, new experience with each visit.

It has moving art – and art that seems always moving.

When is the last time you visited Crystal Bridges?

Plan Your Visit:

There is NO COST to view the museum's permanent collection, which is on view year-round. General admission to Crystal Bridges is always free, and is sponsored by Walmart.

Trails and grounds are open daily from sunrise to sunset and during museum hours. The museum is closed on Tuesdays.

Crystal Bridges is located at 600 Museum Way in Bentonville. Call 479-418-5700 or visit CrystalBridges.org for more information.

A trail at Crystal Bridges
A trail at Crystal Bridges
Contemporary art gallery
Contemporary art gallery
Art at Crystal Bridges
Art at Crystal Bridges
Sculptures on a trail
Sculptures on a trail