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10 Years of Meaningful Memories, Submitted by Visitors

Aerial view of Crystal Bridges at dusk

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:

a visitor poses in front of donald judd's red untitled work in the galleries

Seth Anderson

My favorite memory of Crystal Bridges is my first trip to the museum with my sister. We are 11 years apart in age and had never taken a trip together with just the two of us. This was such a fun and unique way to experience a new city and this beautiful museum together. Mixing our love of art, architecture, and nature, Crystal Bridges hit every sweet spot we were looking for! We will never forget that trip spending quality bonding time with one another. Thank you, Crystal Bridges!

The work in the background of this photo is Untitled, 1989 (Bernstein 89-24) by Donald Judd.

two guests laugh in eleven surrounded by people at a culinary event

Kevin Arnold

Being a native of the Arkansas River Valley and after graduating with my MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 2010, I could not express the joy of moving back home to Arkansas during that time, leading up to the opening of Arkansas’s first world-class art museum in 2011. Before that point, I would drive four hours to spend a weekend in Kansas City just to see art. So to have Crystal Bridges in my backyard, a place where I could take students to see art firsthand, was a huge blessing.

Hank Willis Thomas, All Things Being Equal
Hank Willis Thomas, Absolut No Return, 2008, lambda c-print on metallic paper, 96 x 48 inches, 97 1/4 x 49 3/8 x 2 1/4 in (framed). Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

Breanna Baker

My favorite memory was seeing the Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal… exhibition. I have never been so moved by art in my life. It really struck a chord with me as a Black woman seeing a part of my own cultural experience on display in an authentic way for the first time in my life.

a visitor carries a baby while looking at art on the salon hang wall

Amanda Baus

My husband and I were in Fayetteville for our honeymoon and decided to drop by Crystal Bridges because it had such great reviews. It was during the Chihuly exhibition and we absolutely fell in love. We ended up moving to Northwest Arkansas and still love seeing the Chihuly artworks! I also fell in love with [The Garden,] the mini floral exhibition in 2019, North Forest Lights (I’ve been twice), nature days, and the trails. The picture is of my daughter’s first time at Crystal Bridges (one month old) with my mom holding her.

marina abramovic gives a lecture in the Great Hall
Marina Abramovic at Crystal Bridges in 2017.

Casaundra Beard

Crystal Bridges being close to home means I am able to experience amazing art I normally couldn’t reach in person. Getting to see the Infinity Mirrored Room and Marina Abramovic’s artist talk is something I will cherish forever. I have looked up to these amazing female artists for my own artistic inspiration for so long and getting to personally experience it outside of readings in textbooks is indescribable. I can’t wait to share more memories with my children for years to come!

two people at the overlook looking at crystal bridges

Janae Brown

My favorite memory is seeing the inside of the museum on opening night. I had never been in an art museum and it was so beautiful. I remember it being dark and the museum being lit up with gold lights. We lived a couple blocks from the square at the time, so we would take bike rides as a family every few days to watch the construction progress from the overlook. It was crazy to see it finally done and how gorgeous it was.

a mom and daughter visitors pose in front of the frank lloyd wright house

Amber Carson

My favorite memory of Crystal Bridges over the past 10 years is the time I took my grandmother to the museum. She’s older and doesn’t get around as much [as she used to], but this was something on her bucket list. The feeling I got when we took our time through each hall and exhibition was incredible. I saw my grandma’s eyes spark with joy, and I know it’s a memory we will both forever hold dear in our hearts.

an overview image of the crystal bridges campus

Lia Childress

Crystal Bridges has always been my go-to for anything from hosting family in town to date nights to just days I want to appreciate the beauty of the world without buying a plane ticket. Crystal Bridges has become a regular part of my self-care regime when I want to enjoy myself and step away from the everyday worries and stress of this world. As a minority, I have felt a sense of comfort and belonging and representation in such a beautiful space and that has meant more than you will ever know!

a woman visitor poses in front of rosie the riveter in the same pose the subject is in

Angela Edmonds

Crystal Bridges is a beautiful place, and I had always wanted to visit it. My best friend loves Norman Rockwell’s Rosie the Riveter. The first time we visited Crystal Bridges, the painting was on tour. I planned another trip when Rosie returned. My favorite memory is when my friend walked into the room and saw Rosie. I took photos of her being so happy. And it made me happy that I could show her Rosie.

a couple kisses in eleven during a new year's eve party

Mechon Hall

I visited with a friend back in 2018. I introduced him to visual arts. He invited me on an overnight trip to Bentonville to visit Crystal Bridges. We had a BALL! We walked through the ENTIRE museum and walking trails. We got up close with squirrels and birds. We saw deer enjoying their habitat. We attended the AHI concert in the forest. That friend turned into my boyfriend, fiancé, and now my husband. We’re celebrating our second anniversary soon and would love to do it at Crystal Bridges. The picture is from NYE 2018!

people waking a nature trail in early spring

Gail Halleck

My daughter participated in Teen Council for 2.5 years, so I was there often. It was therapeutic for me to enjoy art and walk/run the trails to work out the stress of a rough few years with my son’s serious health issues. My daughter is now an art major at the University of Arkansas. She was so influenced by her time on the council.

Nancy Rubins, Monochrome II sculpture
Nancy Rubins, Monochrome II, 2010-2018, stainless steel, stainless steel wire, and aluminum, 33 × 55 × 35 ft. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, Arkansas. Photography by Stephen Ironside.

Sarah Ashley Hendricks

The very first time we visited Northwest Arkansas, our family visited Crystal Bridges. It was a dreary day in March 2020, just as COVID-19 was descending on the US, and our first impressions of the area were tainted by the weirdness of that time. But, an unexpected bright spot was having the grounds almost entirely to ourselves! Around every curve of the forest path, our daughters were squealing over Chihuly glass or super-sized deer or suspended canoes. It has been a magical place for us ever since.

two young female visitors pose inside kusama's infinity mirrored room

Siena Hutchison

I have so many [memories at Crystal Bridges] with my parents and friends. One of my favorites, though, was my most recent visit with my sister and her husband―in town from England―and our parents. Even though I had seen many of the exhibitions already, it was almost like I was experiencing it for the first time. Being able to share art with the people I hold so dear to me is amazing. Art changes depending on who you’re speaking to. Understanding their point of view and how they interact with certain pieces is remarkable!

two guests pose in front of buckyball with an engagement ring

Dawn Lofland

On December 30, 2020, after enjoying North Forest Lights, my boyfriend of five years proposed to me under the warm glow of Buckyball!

Soul of a Nation exhibition entrance

Nancy Lopez

I remember Border Cantos and Soul of a Nation. I like that these stories are being brought to life through art and that artists of color are being celebrated. I hope to see more of that in the coming future. Apart from that, I love the trails and being able to enjoy them with friends and family.

a visitor and ancestor of john ridge poses with his portrait in the galleries

Rebecca Luebker

I remember the first time I got to see the John Ridge portrait. He is my 4x great grandfather, and when I need his wisdom and guidance, I visit the museum. I am so grateful that his portrait is near and not far from his family.

Exhibition gallery

Natasha Martinez

The Van Gogh to Rothko exhibition changed my viewpoint on art forever! It was the first time I felt awed by art, staring at Frida Kahlo’s paintings and recognizing a Latina among [other] amazing artists led me on the path to becoming a graphic designer. I love the way art impacts others in life, and I wouldn’t have experienced it firsthand had it not been for that experience!

students in the galleries

Karina Molina

I think my favorite Crystal Bridges experience was when I went on a school field trip in high school. My teacher made us sit and look at a painting for five minutes straight, which I had never done―this was when I discovered my love for art.

a woman visitor and her support dog look at companion species by marie watt

Anna Morris

Other than my first time going, my favorite memory from Crystal Bridges would be my most recent visit. My friend and I went for a college project she was doing about an art piece of her choosing. On top of it being a successful trip for her service dog, Koa, we also had a very wholesome run-in with an employee who shared some info about two of his favorite artworks. It is one of my favorite memories there.

The artwork featured in the image is Companion Species (Speech Bubble) by Marie Watt.

a young girl poses on the crystal bridges trails

Brandy Payne

I have two favorite memories. The first was last year when we took our six-year-old through North Forest Lights. To see the wonder and excitement on her face was priceless. Another favorite time was walking the trails. It was really awesome because it felt like we were in the middle of a forest, going on an adventure. We had lots of fun using our imagination.

Crystal Bridges museum art galleries

Maggie Powers

I went for the first time on my 16th birthday, shortly after it opened. It has been a source of joy and learning for the past 10 years. As I have grown into an adult, I have greatly appreciated having access to the history and new perspectives that the art at Crystal Bridges provides. I am always so proud to bring visitors to Crystal Bridges and have already started bringing my baby girl.

Sign pointing the way to the North Forest Lights experience

Brigitte Riley

My son’s very first laugh! We were waiting in the bathroom line for a diaper change at North Forest Lights when my then two-month-old bumped his head on my chest. I waited for a big wail but instead got a sweet little baby giggle!

Want to share your story with us? If you’re a museum visitor, tell us your story by entering our Cheers to 10 Years Giveaway

If you’re a staff member or family of a staff member, share your story here.

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