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A Call to Participate

laughterFirst and foremost, the Museum’s renowned art collection—combined with the “wow factor” of Moshe Safdie’s enchanting architecture—is undeniably an out-of-this-world experience. Yet there is still more to be discovered at Crystal Bridges. The Museum is quickly becoming a social hub for the local community as a center of idea exchange. I am in awe of the excitement people generate around Crystal Bridges. Daily, I run across some of the same visitors or volunteers at the Museum—we have become defacto roommates, as we both practically live at the Museum. It has become our home away from home, a social place to meet with friends, a retreat to soothe the soul, and an oyster of continued learning.

Phunbags works the crowd on Walker Landing

Phunbags works the crowd on Walker Landing

In the 21st century, the role of the Museum is rapidly shifting from a dusty house of object display to a participatory, living institution.  With Crystal Bridges being so young, the Museum is set to play a huge role in local community and growth of the arts in Northwest Arkansas. In just two years, I’ve observed the Museum grow from a baby to a toddler, yet the most natural and significant growth is the investiture of the local community in the Museum’s mission. The involvement of our local audience is a huge contributor to creating a diverse, fresh, and community-centric vibe at the Museum. Now it’s time to take our local connection further by opening a call to participate:  inviting you, our community, to share your voice about art, people, and ideas!  After all, each person or group brings a different background and cultural perspective, as well as specialized learning on a particular subject of interest. There are countless ways to get involved in the exchange of ideas at the Museum.

Robert Norman with Sphere OXO

Robert Norman with Sphere OXO

Collaboration with local organizations and individuals is the heart of educational programs at Crystal Bridges. To keep the heart rate of the Museum pulsing, we always keep our ears open to suggestions from community members.  Local participants have found many ways to get involved in Museum programs:  from lectures by college professors or local experts like Corrin Troutman of Compton Gardens; to film festivals hosted by organizations such as Seedling Film Association or Oklahoma Dance Film Festival; to performances in music, theater, or dance for our concert program or events such as Art Night Out and Family Sunday. Community members teach art classes and nature studies in Discover the Grounds; create temporary art installations with Museum visitors such as Craig Colorusso’s Sun Boxes or Robert R. Norman’s Sphere XOX; or organize programs such as the upcoming Avant-Garden Party hosted by our Teen Council on April 12 and Le Carnaval des Couleurs on April 5, organized by our College Ambassadors.

Art TalkOne new program is our “Community Speaks” Art Talks. Thus far we’ve offered Art Talks at Crystal Bridges led by art historians or art educators. While many guests enjoy this traditional way of learning about art, let’s take our discussions further by offering Art Talks led by community speakers who can expose us to new ideas from an outsider’s point of view about an artwork or artist.  If you’re interested in being a community speaker, contact me at [email protected]   To give a better sense of local involvement at the Museum, here is just a small sampling of our associate organizations in just two years.  Could you imagine you or your group involved at the Museum? If so please contact Crystal Bridges!

  • Artists:  Craig Colorusso, Robert R. Norman, Jeremy McGraw, Carol Cooper, Victor Chalfant, Stephen Ironside, Amber Perrodin, Eve Smith
  • Wellness–Phat Tire, Yoga Story, ClubHause Fitness
  • Theatre: Phunbags, Trike Theatre, Artist Laboratory Theatre, Houston Hughes Poetry Slam, ArkansasStaged
  • Dance: Afrique Aya, Oklahoma Dance Film Festival, Tulsa Modern Movement, Violetta Lotus Burlesque Dance Troupe
  • Music: Fayetteville Jazz Collective, Cassatt String Quartet, Fossils of Ancient Robots, Ben Harris Quartet, NWACC Chamber Singers, Hogtown Hotclub, Calle Soul Salsa Band, Don’t Stop Please!, Artosphere Orchestra, Surf de Soleil, Randall Shreve and the Side Show, Bonnie Montgomery, Candy Lee and the Sweets

Associate Organizations (in no particular order):

  • Walton Arts Center
  • Downtown Bentonville Inc.
  • Theater Squared
  • Fayetteville Roots Festival
  • Northwest Arkansas Community College Departments of Music and Art
  • University of Arkansas (several areas—History Department, Faye Jones School of Architecture, the Fine Arts, Study Abroad and International Exchange Program)
  • University of Central Arkansas
  • John Brown University
  • Compton Gardens
  • Walmart Associate Resource Groups
  • 21C Museum Hotel
  • Northwest Arkansas Photographic Society
  • Art Center of the Ozarks
  • Project Play Every Day


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