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10 Years of Meaningful Memories, Submitted by Visitors (Part II)

five children visitors pose in front of depression bread line in the galleries

What does Crystal Bridges mean to you?

For a decade, the museum has offered a place to enjoy a unique blend of art, nature, and architecture on 120 acres of beautiful Ozark forest. In 10 years, 5.6 million visitors have come through the doors, while some 4 million have enjoyed the beauty of the trails around the museum.

Join us in reminiscing on our first decade by browsing meaningful memories submitted by members of our community:

Jenny Boulden

My husband and I went on our birthday weekend. We were admiring the Maxfield Parrish painting The Lantern Bearers when the Gallery Guide came over to tell us more about it. He was an elderly Black man from Liberia, full of charm and joy. I knew another couple in Arkansas from Liberia, and it turned out he knew them, too. We had a fun chat. Then he sang Happy Birthday to us right there in front of the painting. Because of him, it now feels like The Lantern Bearers are celebrating us.

Border Cantos

Cruz Consuelo

The Border Cantos exhibition was the best exhibition I’ve experienced in my entire life.  I’ll never forget the work in the exhibition and the work put into community engagement for the exhibition. The museum and its grounds replenish my soul with every visit.  I feel fortunate to live within driving distance.

a woman visitor poses inside kusama's infinity mirrored room

Nick Dawson

Each time we go we see new exhibitions and old favorites. Walking through the iconic buildings and the lovely grounds, especially in the fall season, is one highlight of our trips to Crystal Bridges. The Infinity Mirrored Room is another with a kaleidoscope of colors.

Man stands looking at abstract painting in front of him

Erika Finnestead

When I was a single mom, I’d visit during the day and sit in front of paintings during the day and they felt comforting. I’d bring my kids and they read every [art label]. One time, my youngest son tried to touch a beautiful motorcycle during Bikes, Blues, and Barbecue [in Fayetteville], and my oldest son said “don’t touch. It’s art. Just appreciate.” It was the location of my first date with my now-husband. The museum, to me, is comfort and connection in a complicated world.

a group of student visitors lay in a circle underneath maman in the museum courtyard

Tracy Gibson

My co-teacher and I brought 14 of our art students from Norman, Oklahoma, and spent the day at Crystal Bridges the year before COVID-19 hit. It was an amazing adventure. Many of our students had never been to an art museum, nor out of Oklahoma, before. This was a moment in their lives they will never forget, and neither will I. They absolutely loved it! They laughed, they played, they looked in awe, they learned. It was a highlight in their high school careers―and in my teaching career.

a female visitor stands in the pose of the bubble sculpture

Meosha Howard

I was experimenting with abstract painting the first time I visited Crystal Bridges. I was completely in awe when I first stepped inside. It reminded me of the museums I had seen on TV. I had no idea that anything existed like it in Arkansas. I was struggling to call myself an artist or even how to define art. That visit gave me the clarity I needed. I felt like a little girl completely struck by its grandeur. That day I promised that little girl to never limit herself creatively, and I haven’t.

Artist Faith Ringgold poses in front of her artwork, Maya's Quilt of Life
Artist Faith Ringgold

Paulette Jech

My favorite memory was attending a workshop for art educators. We got to meet the author/artist Faith Ringgold and make a project. She was such an inspiration. I had been using videos and her books in my classroom so I was thrilled to meet her in person! 

a male/female couple poses in front of loopy doopy by sol lewitt

Erin Jones 

As a writer and a high school teacher, Crystal Bridges is both inspiration and respite. Whether it’s a date night with my husband holding hands and sipping cocktails at Eleven, the ghosts of stories hidden in the artwork, or the amazing training that has revolutionized my teaching, the museum has become an integral part of my daily life. I would be bereft without it.

Family in matching tie dye shirts walking through the gallery
Photo by Ironside Photography / Stephen Ironside.

Trajan Lester

My wife and I had visited multiple times before, but earlier this year, we took our four young children (all 7 and younger) to Crystal Bridges for the first time. Seeing them find art they were interested in, in spite of how young they were, was fascinating. Some might think the art at Crystal Bridges is only for an older audience, yet I found it intriguing to see what drew my children in. It was details I often would have overlooked was it not for them pointing the detail out.

two musicians take a photo in the great hall with their bassoons

Bobo Richards

I play the bassoon and contrabassoon for SoNA, and Crystal Bridges is one of my favorite places to play. My favorite memory is one time, we had an audience sitting among us and my then-girlfriend, now wife got to sit right next to me! The museum is a wonderful place for me to share music with guests and spread the arts.

a mom and daughter visitors pose in the soul of a nation exhibition

Lisa Skiles

[The exhibition] Soul of a Nation. It was the last “date” with my mom before she passed. As soon as we entered, it took her back to living in Oakland (she was attending college nearby) and her memories of interactions with the Black Panther organizers in the neighborhood, including giving them a trunkful of oranges that her dad told her to drive to the market! It was a mom/daughter date I will always remember. She loved all the vignettes including the film clips. Thanks!

a school class poses with alice walton on walker landing

Tracie Slattery

My favorite CB memory is when I took my students on my first field trip to the museum, and we met Alice Walton who posed for a photo with us! I was so excited to take my students to the museum that day and have the opportunity to take them for many years ahead, and I arranged for my whole school to go every year since! The museum has taught me so much about American art, especially African American art, and I have loved every lecture, event, tour, exhibit, and minute spent there. 

Sara Sturges 

My ancestor is the artist John Trumbull. Walking into Crystal Bridges and seeing one of his photos and being able to show my children one of his photos was so special!

a young female visitor poses with artist amy sherald in the great hall

Jessica Taverna

My daughter and I got to meet Amy Sherald! We left school immediately from Little Rock to drive three hours to make it in time to see the amazing artist who painted Michelle Obama’s portrait. I loved how down-to-earth Amy Sherald was during the interview. She had such a strong and sweet demeanor. After the interview, my daughter wanted to take a picture with her. Amy was so gracious, hugged my daughter, and posed so sweetly with her. Many thanks to Crystal Bridges for this rare opportunity!

Janet Tilley

For a number of years, I taught American Studies with another teacher who became my best friend. We loved teaching about the Romantic Era and focused on the Hudson River Valley writers, artists, and activists. I always used the poetry of William Cullen Bryant and the art of Thomas Cole. The day that we could visit together and linger over Kindred Spirits is my most cherished memory. My teaching partner/friend is in the last stages of a cancer battle. This moment at CB is written on my soul.

five children visitors pose in front of depression bread line in the galleries

Astrid Turner

My favorite memory was visiting Crystal Bridges at 10 because my three kids submitted artwork that was included in the exhibition! Another was the PD summer workshop I took for The African American Experience; it was life-changing. Over the years, CB has continued to inspire me to become a better art teacher. I truly appreciate having such a great collection of art so local, especially along with progressive and inclusive educational resources.

Want to read more meaningful memories? Read Part I here.

Thank you for being part of Crystal Bridges’ first 10 years.