Free Drop-in Guided Tours are a popular offering at Crystal Bridges. Our friendly, knowledgeable Tour Guides offer one-hour tours on a number of topics: Collection Highlights focuses on the “greatest hits” in each of the galleries; Inspiring Women looks at women as both artist and subject; the Architecture Tour is an indoor/outdoor tour showcasing Moshe Safdie’s unique architectural design and revealing some of the engineering feats behind the Museum’s construction. There are also family tours, an evening tour, special exhibition tours, and trail experiences!
But I’m here today to talk about the new Big Picture Tour. This is an offering for those who are interested in getting a general overview about the three things that make Crystal Bridges unique: art, architecture, and nature.
The tour begins with a look at some of the key features of the Museum’s architecture. From there, the group heads into the galleries to discover one of Crystal Bridges’ most well-known and iconic paintings.
Finally, the group moves outdoors through the Museum’s south entrance and up the short trail to Crystal Spring to talk about the natural environment surrounding Crystal Bridges. This last is, I think, an especially wonderful component of the Museum experience. Every visitor to Crystal Bridges is automatically wowed by the architecture and moved by the art. But not everyone makes that little bit of extra effort to get out onto the trails: and if you’re going to experience just one part of Crystal Bridges’ grounds, Crystal Spring is the place to go.
We’ve referred to the spring as the “living heart” of Crystal Bridges: it is one of the sources for the water that is so central to the Museum’s design. The spring water emerges from under a rocky overhang and courses down through rocks that have been carved into swoops and whorls by its passage for more than 100 years. Standing at Crystal Spring you get a sense of the timelessness of the place. And I think that feeling inspires your experience of the artwork inside the Museum, as well.
Crystal Spring was flowing when the artworks in the Early Nineteenth-Century Gallery were being made. It was flowing in the late 1800s when apple-growing was king in Northwest Arkansas (you can learn about the apple industry in our part of the world here) and men attempted (and failed) to carve a railroad out of these rocky hills (you can still see where the earth was built up to support a bridge over the spring’s path). The spring was still flowing when Missouri regionalist Thomas Hart Benton made his paintings about the hard work of farming in the early twentieth century; and Museum founder Alice Walton and her brothers roamed this land as children in the late 1950s. The spring has been here and witnessed all of this, a constant in the landscape.
Just like the spring, the artwork in Crystal Bridges endures—long after those who made it are gone from this earth. And after you’ve toured the galleries and gone home, it will still be here… any time you want to come back—or your children… or their children.
So join us on this new tour to get some perspective on The Big Picture at Crystal Bridges! Big Picture Tours are offered on Saturdays at 11 a.m. through May, 2015. To learn a bit more about the other Drop-in Tours offered at the Museum, click here.