Skip to main content

Meet Our 10-Year'd Staff: Jennifer Dunham

staff member poses in front of silver upper white river by maya lin

In celebration of Crystal Bridges’ 10-year anniversary, we are highlighting museum staff who have been working at Crystal Bridges since the beginning: 10 years or longer! So take a few moments to meet our 10-Year’d (get it? tenured?) staff. In today’s blog, meet Director of Internal Communications Jennifer Dunham, who is celebrating 12 years at Crystal Bridges.


Tell us a little about your role. What do you do at Crystal Bridges?

As the Director of Internal Communications, I am responsible for the development and implementation of a strategic, innovative internal communications plan geared to continuously emphasize and promote the vision, culture, and values of Crystal Bridges. I am working to achieve this through consistent communication via the channels we have created (intranet, newsletter, digital displays, all staff meetings) in addition to expanding our opportunities for connection and recognition amongst colleagues.


Have you always been in this role? If not, how has it changed?

I joined Crystal Bridges in 2009 as the Head of Volunteer Programs, which means I had the privilege of establishing all aspects of the volunteer program and resulting department from the ground up. My internal communications role is somewhat similar in that promoting the vision, culture, and values of Crystal Bridges has always been there, I have just expanded it to include our staff.

staff member poses in eleven
staff member poses with veteran volunteers in eleven
Posing with some of our volunteer veterans.

In your role, can you share with us 1-2 significant changes you’ve seen happen (or been part of) at Crystal Bridges over the last 10 years?

I feel I would be remiss in not mentioning the creation of my current role! I am forever grateful to our Executive Director Rod Bigelow and (at the time) Chief Communications Officer Diane Carroll for REALLY listening to my concerns about our rapid growth and the need for further making strategic connections among our growing team of staff and volunteers. I had no idea at the time that my request to explore the need for an internal communications role would result in me leading the charge, but I credit them for encouraging me to push the boundaries of what I knew and transfer those skills to move us forward.

In general, I would say that CHANGE in and of itself is the most consistent and significant thing that has permeated my entire experience over the past 12 years. The vision of our founder and the drive of our leadership is never stagnant. There is always more to do and an expectation to find ways of doing it better.

a group of friends eat dinner in eleven
Dinner with friends in Eleven.
two staff members pose at the Bentonville Christmas Parade.
At the Bentonville Christmas Parade.

What is something we do at the museum now that we were not doing 10 years ago?

It might be more interesting to consider what we were doing 10 years ago that we are still doing! I am really not kidding when I say change is big around here. One of the things I like to share with newer team members is the fact that we have an additional parking lot and a shuttle…a definite perk.


What has kept you here?

Belief in the vision and respect for all of the people who pour themselves into our work. I have been given the gift of seeing its impact on people’s lives in real time.  

What has been the most exciting artwork you’ve seen at the museum, either in the collection or in an exhibition? Most exciting moment?

The most exciting artwork has to be Samuel F. B. Morse’s Gallery of the Louvre back in 2016. The size and scope of it, combined with the talent it took to create it blew me away. Then to hear the story behind it and how it caused him to not paint any longer, but to go on to invent Morse code was just a “wow” moment for me. The stories behind the art and/or artist are always the most meaningful.

two staff members pose in a photo booth with silly hats
Goofing off with Rod at Volunteer Appreciation Party.

The most exciting moment to me has to have been our very first volunteer appreciation event. It took place in April 2011 at NWACC (the museum was still in the throes of construction), and it was the first chance we had to express our gratitude to the hundreds of volunteers who had already put in thousands of hours of work behind the scenes. I used to joke and say that if we needed people to scrape bubblegum off of baseboards, we could have found people! In that single event, our entire team (small, but mighty!) played a part in the event and I knew then I was witnessing something very special.

How have you grown over the last 10 years, either as a person or in your professional capacity?

Personally, my capacity for art appreciation has grown exponentially. I always enjoyed art and the process, but I was never really a museum-goer. I have learned so much from our team and the volunteers over the years, and have been truly moved by the impact it has had on so many lives. My son (now a college sophomore) was among the very first to participate in annual school tours, and the cultural exposure the museum brought is something he would not have otherwise had growing up in Bentonville; I will forever be grateful. Professionally, I have been challenged beyond all positions in my past, and as a former teacher and social worker, that’s saying A LOT!   

staff member's family photo on the crystal bridges grounds
Jennifer's family photo on the museum grounds in 2012.
staff member poses with family in north forest lights
North Forest Lights with family.
staff member poses with portrait of bob in the gallery

If you could go back 10 years and give yourself one piece of advice, what would you say?

Buy lots of land in Bentonville.


What do you think Crystal Bridges will be like 10 years from now?

Bigger, better, and bolder!