Crystal Bridges permanent collection spans more than five centuries of American masterworks from colonial to current day. Since the Museum’s founding, we continue to add to the unfolding story of America exhibited in our galleries by acquiring new works.
When an artwork is acquired, the process of bringing it into the Museum’s collection and scheduling its debut begins. A recent acquisition sheds light on our practice of announcing new works, for those who wonder about the Museum’s approach. Last week, we announced the recent purchase of Thomas Hill’s Yosemite Falls, which then debuted in the permanent collection galleries along with Yosemite Album, a book of 27 photographs in the Museum’s collection. Together, these works help tell the story of the role art played in opening Yosemite National Park, one of our nation’s most iconic natural wonders. This combination of sharing a new work paired with other relevant works highlights our goal of announcing acquisitions as part of the larger Crystal Bridges collection, offering insights and viewing opportunities for visitors.
With each acquisition, thoughtful stewardship involves assessing all the relevant factors surrounding the purchase and progressing with the process with curatorial and exhibition teams of developing an interpretive plan and a debut schedule. Crystal Bridges typically announces acquisitions based on the timing of installations, exhibitions, and with consideration to historical relevance and interpretive information about how the work fits within the context of our permanent collection—an accepted museum practice supported by collection management resources, including Marie C. Malaro’s A Legal Primer on Managing Museum Collections, a resource cited by the American Alliance of Museums.
Other examples of this practice include our sharing news of the acquisitions of Leo Villareal’s Buckyball, Jeff Koons’s Hanging Heart, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Bachman-Wilson House, Andy Warhol’s Coca-Cola (3), Edward Hopper’s Blackwell’s Island, and other works that our visitors have enjoyed viewing.
New acquisitions are also shared on our blog and on our website, where we publish the works in our collection and curatorial information. As the Smithsonian American Art Museum noted in a press release last week, Crystal Bridges is currently working collaboratively with a group of American art institutions on a Linked Open Data Initiative, making access to resources on museum’s collections more readily available.
Crystal Bridges’ mission is to explore the unfolding history of America by collecting and exhibiting outstanding works of art that illuminate our artistic heritage and enrich our understanding and appreciation of our nation and ourselves. Our goal for new acquisitions is to share information about the artwork within a broad historical context, and to welcome all to come see it at no cost. Since we opened our doors a little over three years ago, more than 1.6 million people have visited the Museum to do just that.