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10 Years of Meaningful Memories, Submitted by Staff

an image of eleven restaurant before the ponds were filled

Join us in reminiscing on our first decade by browsing meaningful memories submitted by the museum’s staff members:

an image of eleven restaurant before the ponds were filled

Jennifer Dunham

Director of Internal Communications

On Saturday, October 22, 2011, we conducted a multipurpose volunteer training. One group of volunteers got to experience a soft opening of our restaurant, Eleven, while another group was being trained on general customer service and safety expectations for our November 11 opening, followed by a tour of the galleries. Excitement and uncertainty was in the air, and we were all running on adrenaline.

As the volunteer services manager at the time, I had been singularly focused on operations: numbers of people needed, timing, training, parking, emergency preparedness, etc. I had not really spent much time in museums, and I hadn’t seen our galleries with any art at all yet. I vividly remember walking through the gallery doors with that first group of volunteers and the overwhelming emotion we all felt at that moment. There were tears and smiles, and in that moment, I “got” Ms. Walton’s vision for this place. It had already transformed my life. I just hadn’t realized it yet.

This museum has given me the gift of time with the most amazing people. I have had the pleasure of knowing hundreds of volunteers and receiving their most precious gift…time. My work at the museum has evolved in recent years and I don’t see as much of them as I used to, but my love for them is strong.

a young girl wearing a party hat lays on the floor of the gallery drawing a picture

Paige Francis

Head of Technology, ASC

A few years ago our family visited Crystal Bridges over the holidays. There was a family event going on that encouraged children to draw their experiences. It could be anything—a piece of art, a statue, a coffee. I asked my daughter if she wanted a piece of paper to draw. She shrugged an unenthusiastic, “Sure.” Moments later I turned around to see my girl as pictured—all in, connecting with art in her own new way.

Today, Bella, at 12 years old, is one of the most artistic people I know, and deep down, I know we have Crystal Bridges to thank for being the catalyst. Now working with Crystal Bridges through ASC (Alliance Support Company), I feel that catalyst all around me, and it just reinforces my pride and determination to make any kind of impact on a museum that so dramatically impacted me and my family.

a staff member poses with drag queen Ginger Minj as she sips on a drink

Zach Jones

Shift Lead, Culinary FOH (Front of House)

There have been many wonderful things that I’ve experienced in the last six years, however, I think one of my favorites was when I got to make coffee for and meet one of my favorite artists/Drag Queens Ginger Minj. They came to perform at a Pride event that we were hosting and though I had to work at the Coffee Bar that night, several of our staff members FaceTimed me so I could watch the show. When the show was done, I was able to have a quick break and go to the Great Hall and meet Ginger as well as several other awesome local performers. I think what really sticks out for me about this was how much it meant to me and the local LGBTQ+ community to have such great representation of the diversity in our area and that we embrace all forms of artistic expression.

a staff member poses with her family underneath the colorful string artwork in the galleries

Rebekah Kingsley

Senior Administrative Assistant

When we first moved to Northwest Arkansas, I was a stay-at-home mother to two young children, and it was hard to know how to find a community and feel rooted somewhere. I enrolled my son in the museum’s Mini Masters art camp our first summer here. It was a way to feel like we had the beginnings of a community, a place to help us feel settled. That experience turned into many hours exploring the galleries, sculpture, and grounds. My kids feel like Crystal Bridges is a part of their world and feel proud to show their favorite things to our visiting family. Thank you, Crystal Bridges, for being a part of our story.

a staff member dressed as rosie the riveter receives a kiss from her husband

Heather Marie Wells

Project Manager, Digital Media

Before the museum opened, they were planning a booth for July’s First Friday hosted by Downtown Bentonville Inc., which had an Americana theme. I was asked to dress as Rosie the Riveter so the museum could have a photo experience. It was so much fun to take pictures with community members who couldn’t wait for the museum to open. Nearly everyone mentioned an artwork they couldn’t wait to see and were excited this art was coming to live in our community. It’s wonderful to see how the collection has expanded, and I can’t wait for the next 10 years.