We have certainly been busy this season at Crystal Bridges. You may have seen or heard about multiple new offerings (Crystals! Kusama! North Forest Lights!). It might seem like all this activity would have to be seen over the course of a few days. It might even feel a little intimidating.
The good news is: if you want to experience everything we have to offer this season, you can do it in a few hours.
This season, the museum has two special experiences: Crystals in Art, our indoor temporary exhibition open now through January 6, and North Forest Lights, a nighttime light and sound experience in the North Forest open now through February 16. In addition to that, new artworks are constantly being added to the permanent collection, including Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room. It does take quite a bit of energy to see everything, but there are a few strategies to see everything in just a few hours (not even a full day needed).
Here’s the secret: come to the museum in the afternoon.
North Forest Lights opens in the evening, so make time to come to the museum in the mid-afternoon and enjoy everything we have indoors, finishing your visit in the forest at night.
3-4 pm: See Crystals in Art: Ancient to Today first in the Temporary Exhibition Gallery.
This exhibition examines the connection between crystals and art throughout the ages, spanning history and geography. Take some time to admire crystal specimens, ancient objects, and dazzling contemporary works, and take as many (non-flash) pictures as you want. Members, veterans, and youth ages 18 and under get in for free.
4-4:30 pm: Take a brisk walk through the permanent collection galleries, taking note of what you want to see but not stopping.
Nick Gray, founder of Museum Hack, recommends that museum visitors walk the floor of the whole museum as soon as they get there to avoid museum fatigue. “Walk the space, understand where things are, what you might be interested to come back and see, and then, go to the cafe,” says Gray.
4:30-5:30 pm: Have a coffee or wine break at the Coffee Bar.
Following Gray’s advice, once you walk through the galleries noting the places you want to revisit, head to the cafe. The Coffee Bar is currently serving delicious seasonal drinks such as White Pumpkin Hot Chocolate and Pumpkin Chai Smoothies. Make a plan to visit all of the spots and artworks you noted during your brisk walk. If you’d like to see the Kusama Infinity Mirrored Room, tickets can be picked up at the front desk. (If you know in advance of your visit you want to visit Kusama, you can reserve tickets for your desired time slot.)
5:30-6:30 pm: Explore the permanent collection galleries.
Take time to stop and appreciate all the things that captured your eye and walk past the rest. This will ensure that you don’t get fatigued (you’ll need your walking energy for North Forest Lights). *Please note that if you’re visiting on Saturday, Sunday, or Monday, the museum closes at 6 p.m., so you might have to adjust this itinerary slightly. You can start walking to North Forest Lights at 6 p.m.
6:30 pm: Head to North Forest Lights!
Ticket times start at 6:30, meaning you can purchase your tickets in advance and plan on arriving during the first time slot. Even if you’re running a little behind in the permanent galleries, entry times are one hour, so if the entry date on your ticket says 6:30-7:30 pm, you can arrive at North Forest Lights at any time between then. Plan to spend 45 minutes to 1 hour in North Forest Lights. You can also grab a warm beverage and snack in the experience. Tickets and FAQs can be found here.
If it’s Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday: Have dinner at Eleven.
Dining at Eleven is a unique, one-of-a-kind experience with beautiful views and a special atmosphere. The cuisine is High South, an in-house culinary concept that elevates Southern home cooking in the Ozarks to a new level: champagne and cornbread. Head to North Forest Lights afterward. (If you purchased tickets in advance, be mindful of your entry time.)