Are you a Member of Crystal Bridges (yet)? We’re launching a new membership campaign this week and it got me thinking about why we join cultural institutions like Museums.
Starting this week, we’re launching a series of Member profiles on our website so everyone can learn about our Members: why they joined, what they value most about their membership, and how the Museum is impacting their lives and communities. Drop by and check them out! If you are already a Member, it may help reinforce the reasons you joined and remind you of the great opportunities membership affords you. If you’re not a Member yet, weelllllll…. maybe these stories will inspire you to become one.
I’m an Original Member of Crystal Bridges and proud of it. I signed up in July, 2011, when part of the Museum was still just a big hole in the forest. I had just been hired as Copy Editor and was visiting Bentonville from Oklahoma over the July fourth holiday weekend to find a place to live. There was a big membership campaign happening during First Friday on the square. All the Museum leaders I had interviewed with, including Deputy Director Sandy Edwards and then-Deputy Director (now Executive Director) Rod Bigelow, were out there—sweating in the 102-degree heat, but smiling, enthusiastic, and friendly with everyone they met. Their excitement was palpable. And when they saw me in the crowd I was greeted with exclamations of welcome.
I signed up on the spot.
Why? I was about to be an employee—with all the insider access that affords. Why fork over the extra cash to become a Member?
Because I wanted to be a part of it. I could tell, even then, that Crystal Bridges was going to have an impact on this town, on the region in general—stretching all the way to my hometown of Norman, Oklahoma—even on the art world at large. I felt that I was getting in at the beginning of something special, maybe even something I could tell my grandchildren someday that I had been a part of: “Look, sonny, here’s my membership card: Member 964. I was there when it all began.”
There are venerable art institutions all across this country with long and storied pasts. They all began with a few individuals with a vision and a community with a passion to support that vision. Here at Crystal Bridges, we’re making that “storied past” right now. We’re the ones making history.
Corny? Okay, maybe. But if you’re unmoved by history, then just consider the perks.
Free admission to exhibitions, special Members-only openings and events, discounts, and of course, the highly prized subscription to C magazine, edited by Yours Truly, and crammed with information you won’t get anywhere else about artworks, artists, exhibitions, and behind-the scenes stories that tell the story of Crystal Bridges.
Membership makes it more than the Museum… membership makes it your Museum. It’s a subtle difference, but an important one. You become a supporter of the cause, a member of the group, someone who recognizes and appreciates the importance of the Museum to the community and the region and who embraces all it stands for. It’s the power of art, the beauty of nature, the elegance of the architecture, and the welcoming warmth of the people inside it. It all comes together to make Crystal Bridges an art museum like no other in this country… just like Northwest Arkansas is like no other place in this country. It’s special. It’s yours. It’s ours. You belong here. Join up!