At times it’s hard to remember that Crystal Bridges was a big hole in the ground just five years ago. There are only a handful of current staff members who remember the early days when Crystal Bridges was more Idea than Museum, and could be run by a small staff of less than twenty. Today, with a growing staff of more than 120, we big farewell to one of those first few, Kris Holland. Kris shares here some of her remembrances of the birth of a Museum. –LD
Crystal Bridges has been a part of my life for over five years. I began working for the Museum as the afternoon receptionist in November 2008, when we were still housed downtown at the Massey building. I would greet guests when they came to the administrative office, and direct them down to our gallery space if they were visiting to see our current exhibition. It was a very exciting time to come on board. My very first week, we took a tour to the job site and walked around in what is now the Accounting office and our main lobby. The day we were there, it was just a slab.
Within a few months of my working at the Massey, the staff had outgrown our space and we moved to a new, larger, temporary office down the road. In the two years we worked in our Beau Terre office, the staff grew by leaps and bounds. I was thrilled to be there as we welcomed a new Executive Director, Don Bacigalupi, and later a new Deputy Director, Rod Bigelow, as they joined our staff from Toledo, Ohio. We opened the pedestrian overlook on the Crystal Bridges Trail from Compton Gardens, allowing all to view the Museum’s progress.
I was privileged during this time to be promoted to the role of Assistant to the CFO. In my new role, I took on several exciting opportunities. I was able to be part of the selection committee to choose the architect for our Museum Store. I organized our interviews for the architects, and worked with our search panel to view the designs and determine the best fit for our vision. I also met our Store Manager candidates, and enjoyed taking them on tours of the newly opened Skyspace.
As we got closer to our opening date, I took on new roles, working with our Project Management team to close out the construction project. I became an unofficial member of the Hines group, working in the construction trailers each week on building documents and other paperwork to finalize the Museum’s build-out phase.
Moving in to the Museum building was a magical moment. Many of us had been waiting for YEARS for that day. Driving down the main entrance to work on the first day was almost like a dream. The past two years of coming here each day have been wonderful.
But all good things come to an end. I have chosen to leave Bentonville to return to Louisiana to be closer to my family. It has been the hardest decision I have ever made, and I will never work anywhere like the Museum again. I want to thank everyone from the bottom of my heart for being a part of my journey – attending Massey gallery openings, being “one in a million” during our grand opening and other first-year events, or coming to one of the special events I have worked to coordinate in 2013.
In closing, to paraphrase my favorite show Doctor Who, “Crystal Bridges, before I go, I just want to tell you: you were fantastic. Absolutely fantastic. And you know what? So was I.”