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New Podcast Episode! Talking with Rod Bigelow and Sandy Edwards

Museum Way Podcast

New year, new podcast season! We’re so excited to kick off season 2 of Museum Way with an interview with Crystal Bridges’ Executive Director and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer Rod Bigelow and Deputy Director Sandy Edwards. Listen to the episode here.

Read this episode’s transcript

 

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Museum Way host Stace Treat with Sandy Edwards and Rod Bigelow

In this episode, Bigelow and Edwards talk about their roles at the museum, as well as their favorite moments of 2018 and what they’re looking forward to in 2019. Check out our 2018 highlights video below to see first-hand some of the exciting projects mentioned in the episode.

Executive Director and Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer Rod Bigelow

Rod Bigelow has served as executive director of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art since 2013, guiding all facets of the museum’s development and reflecting his more than 20 years of experience in management of arts and cultural institutions. He joined Crystal Bridges in 2010, serving as the deputy director of operations and administration, focusing on organizational and policy development as well as construction activities leading up to the museum’s opening in November, 2011. In that role, he led the Crystal Bridges’ strategic planning process, resulting in a comprehensive plan guiding the museum’s focus.

Crystal Bridges took a crucial step forward in living up to our mission of access for all when the board of directors named Bigelow Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer in addition to his Executive Director role. Read Case Studies in Museum Diversity by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Association and the Association of Art Museum Directors here, and learn more about the role of Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer in the episode!

Deputy Director Sandy Edwards

Sandy Edwards career exemplifies her deep commitment to improving quality of life through arts and education. She has served as Deputy Director for Crystal Bridges since 2007, playing a vital role in the conception, planning, building, and opening of the museum. She was instrumental in the establishment of endowments for the museum’s operations, acquisitions, and capital improvements, as well as a grant that provides free admission to the museum. Edwards has been and continues to be a guiding force in establishing this cultural destination, creating and growing connections to bring increased tourism to the area, as well as offering the region’s residents unparalleled arts, cultural, and educational experiences.

See all episodes here!

Other Museum Way episodes include a conversation on artwork installation, a chat with our Eleven restaurant chef, a look into museum virtual reality, and more. Subscribe to the podcast to be notified whenever we post a new episode—more exciting episodes are coming soon!

Crystal Bridges Interpretation Manager Stace Treat is the host of Museum Way. Subscribe to be the first to listen, and head over to our social media channels to let us know what you’d like to hear on future episodes.

Episode Transcript

Stace Treat:
Welcome to Museum Way, the podcast of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. We’re sharing all the ins and outs of the museum from the galleries to the trails, the architecture and more. You’ll learn the museum way of Crystal Bridges. Happy 2019. Along with the new year, we’re kicking off season two of Museum Way. We have an exciting episode today with our executive director and chief diversity inclusion officer, Rod Bigelow, as well as our deputy director, Sandy Edwards. We’ll be looking back on some of their favorite moments from 2018, and we’ll look forward to the exciting plans in store for the new year. So let’s jump into this episode of Museum Way.

Stace Treat:
We’re here with Rod Bigelow and Sandy Edwards. Welcome to the podcast y’all.

Sandy Edwards:
Thanks Stace.

Rod Bigelow:
Thank you.

Stace Treat:
All right, Sandy, let’s start with you. Why don’t you just tell us a little bit about your role, what a deputy director does, and maybe some background as to what brought you to Crystal Bridges.

Sandy Edwards:
As deputy director at the museum, I’m currently in my 11th year, which means that I came during the organizing part, if you will, of the museum when it had been announced and we were literally building the museum, the building, the collection and the personnel, the operation. So my job during that time was a lot about building, and over that time period I became more involved in what I would call external relations. So day in and day out, help manage the brand, the interface with our guests through guest services, also our membership program, and long-term sustainability through private gifts support. But-

Stace Treat:
All right, well-

Sandy Edwards:
How did I get there?

Stace Treat:
Yeah, I find it interesting. I know a little bit about your background just in conversations we’ve had over the last few years that I’ve been with the museum. How did you get to Crystal Bridges?

Sandy Edwards:
It is interesting because when you work at a museum, people assume that maybe you have spent your life studying art or art history. And I did study that as a liberal arts major when I was in college. I took the appreciation courses. But I went in a little different direction, and the early part of my career was really in performing arts management and music promotion. And then as you do, as you grow and mature, I had the opportunity to raise money for the cultural arts at universities. I was at Penn State University doing that and then was recruited with my late husband to come to the University of Arkansas in 1998, where we were asked to help design, build, and plan, and then operate the campaign for the 21st century. So we came to Arkansas and just loved it, and I consider it home.

Stace Treat:
Great. Well, I know that you came to Crystal Bridges from the university, is that correct?

Sandy Edwards:
Correct.

Stace Treat:
Was that through some of the relationships that you had made working there?

Sandy Edwards:
Yes. Fortunately, I had the opportunity to get to know members of the Walton family, and as they were planning Crystal Bridges, and we were in conversation, they thought it might be a position that would appeal to me. And it certainly did.

Stace Treat:
Well, 11 years later.

Sandy Edwards:
Yes, here we are.

Stace Treat:
Yeah. So Rod, why don’t you tell me all of that stuff-

Rod Bigelow:
All that stuff.

Stace Treat:
… for you?

Rod Bigelow:
Sure, so I’m working on my eighth year at the museum. I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, so I am from far away in the rest of the country. And I also grew up in a liberal arts environment and went to a liberal arts college. But I came out of that college with a finance degree. So as Sandy said, I had Art 101 in college. That’s about it. So from there I went and worked for a telecommunications company working in operations and finance, and then ended up working for an art school and art museum, which is a small regional museum in accounting. So I was learning the museum from that perspective very much.

Stace Treat:
That was the Tacoma Art Museum, is that correct?

Rod Bigelow:
That’s right, Tacoma, Washington, which is a great space. But I got an opportunity to help build a new building there as part of the long-term strategy with that organization. And then ended up getting recruited to go to the Toledo Museum of Art where it’s a fabulous museum that’s been in operations from the turn of the 20th century. So-

Stace Treat:
In Toledo, Ohio, I’m assuming?

Rod Bigelow:
Yes. Yeah. Not Toledo, Spain, Toledo, Ohio. So there I also got to work on completing a building with wonderful architects, and then came here much like Sandy did, to take advantage of a once in a lifetime experience of building a museum, building a team, and building a collection, and really introducing a different cultural experience to a community that hadn’t really had access in the past.

Stace Treat:
Now, I would think that, certainly for myself, but a lot of our visitors may not realize exactly how rare it is to be able to be on the beginning stages of a brand new museum. What was that like for both of you?

Rod Bigelow:
Well, I think it’s incredibly inspiring and also incredibly humbling. There’s a great deal of responsibility when you think about how you approach a community in a way that isn’t one that demands a particular way in which people interact with that space. So our mission of welcoming all really was about finding those touchstones with people across this community as well as across the country and finding what’s relevant to them.

Sandy Edwards:
Yeah, I must say that our field of museum management art is very, very generous, and we reached out to a lot of people to find out what worked, what didn’t work, get comparables. Not a lot of museums are built deep in a ravine in the Arkansas woods, but there are best practices that are out there. And to the credit of Alice Walton, our founder and chair, she advised us, “Find out what’s working best in other places and then make it conform or work to fit our unique mission,” which is literally to welcome all, as Rod said.

Stace Treat:
Right because here, you’re a basically building in this cultural institution in a place that’s never had anything quite like this before. I know that I share with Alice Walton a background in terms of growing up here, where there wasn’t an institution, and so we would drive to Tulsa, or we would go to Kansas City to see art museums. If you’re able to do that, it’s a wonderful experience, but now I know certainly with Crystal Bridges, the education bit of our mission is extremely important. Can you speak to that just a little bit?

Rod Bigelow:
Oh yeah. I think education has been at the central core of the institution from the very beginning and how we develop everything that we do. So when we talk about education, it’s not necessarily like sitting in a classroom and learning something. It’s about creating experiences that are relevant to your life and hopefully creating an environment in which people can think beyond where they have existed in their lives and really start to dream and act maybe differently based on what their own interests are. And our job is to create a space where we tell stories about the past and the present, and we give opportunities for people to come together in an environment that is safe and bold, one where we’re really trying to inspire different kinds of discussions, different perspectives, and different actions.

Stace Treat:
Yeah. And then you can tell a lot of that is reflected by the art and the artists that we have in our collection, who are diverse and questioning through their work.

Sandy Edwards:
All art was contemporary when it was made. And so it’s really fascinating for our guests to be able to see an earlier work in early America still relevant and speaking to work that’s been done today. So we hope that we’re setting up the gallery experience too, when you’re a guest at the museum, to be inspired in that way as well. Just not take a chronological walk or to enjoy one movement, but really to see how they interact with one another.

Rod Bigelow:
There’s lots of us that work in the museum field that didn’t grow up going to and visiting museums. So for us, we’re really passionate about truly creating access to the experiences that we provide for absolutely everyone. You don’t have to have a PhD in art history. You don’t have to have this familiarity about what goes on in a museum. We think of ourselves as a community center, but also as a startup. We’re still trying to figure out what we’re doing and what people want and where we’re going. I think hopefully we can keep some of that part of our culture going, like Northwest Arkansas in fact, really thinks about it. How do we evolve by honoring the past and understanding the past, like our historic collection, but also embracing the opportunities for the future?

Stace Treat:
Well, we’ll talk about that in just a few minutes. So as chief diversity inclusion officer, tell me a little bit about how that role came about.

Rod Bigelow:
Sure. I think what was happening at the time was the museum field was really being introspective on who was telling the story of America, not only America, but all art across this country. And actually there’s an international component to this as well.

Rod Bigelow:
So the Mellon Foundation commissioned a study to really understand what was the makeup of staffs across this country at least. The results were pretty straightforward, that those people in curatorial roles, interpretation roles, conservation, which is making sure you care for the works of art, those types of roles were all being driven by individuals that were not of color. So it was a very high percentage of staff that were not very diverse. And so Mellon came to the table and said, “You’ve got an issue in the field.” And I think museums rightly took a look at all of their teams, and Crystal Bridges really stepped forward very robustly and said, “We’re going to take this seriously from the very top of the organization and say, “We’re going to integrate diversity and inclusion and equity into everything that we do as an institution.”

Rod Bigelow:
So adding a chief diversity and inclusion officer to my title was a very significant signal to all of us that this was core to the success of the institution. And I think many institutions across the country are truly looking at that as core. As the demographics of the country changed dramatically, we have to stay relevant to those communities, and we have to be reactive and really position ourselves as a place where people come to have experiences that connect with their lives.

Stace Treat:
So a lot of organizations would have this role, perhaps separate from the executive director, but part of what Crystal Bridges, the board, and the governing body wanted to do was actually make a statement.

Rod Bigelow:
Very much. Actually across museums, there really aren’t that many roles that are either integrated from the top of the organization or have individuals. Only the largest institutions do. So for us, it’s a constant reminder and signifier that we’re invested, and that when we think of every aspect of the institution’s programming, we think about including all of that at that very basic level.

Rod Bigelow:
So it actually makes it easier for us to embrace because it’s part of our DNA. It will be a constant evolution of change and experiment and adoption-

Stace Treat:
And conversation.

Rod Bigelow:
… and conversation. Because inclusion doesn’t only include race or ethnicity. It’s everything about who we are, not only what you can see. So it’s a very complex and evolving definition, and for us to truly be representative of everyone, it means embracing everyone’s whole self.

Rod Bigelow:
Recently we received a letter from a woman who had been engaged with Will Wilson who came. He’s a contemporary artist that we’ve coupled with Edward Curtis to have a dialogue about indigenous people and how indigenous people had been represented historically. And we got a letter from a mom who was able to… The mother’s daughter was able to participate in a program with Will Wilson at the museum.

Sandy Edwards:
In photography. He in many ways is using a similar format, but taking a different approach from Edward Curtis.

Stace Treat:
Right. It’s a wet-collodion style, 19th century style process that he uses. The resulting images make them look quite old and historic, but yet they’re contemporary images of indigenous people living today.

Sandy Edwards:
Right. And the difference between Will Wilson and Edward Curtis is that he allows the person to choose what they’re going to wear and how they wish to represent themselves. Then he gives them the original. It is a wonderful approach to photography of indigenous people. And so I think the mother observing the daughter participating in this just made her very proud of her heritage, saw the respect that was being given, saw the museum in a way of making this art that was historic, very contemporary today, and was just moved by the whole process from the museum taking this as a priority, giving this program literally to these people to experience, and wrote us just a very moving letter about how proud she was of her daughter, of Will Wilson, of the museum. And it was just a wonderful-

Rod Bigelow:
Really talking about the first time she could find her daughter’s true identity in a space where they felt the museum was adopting a non-colonizing perspective and how welcoming that experience had been.

Sandy Edwards:
One of respect, one of trust, and one of thinking that this may be a direction that we will continue pursuing, and it will be.

Stace Treat:
Yeah, and I can even speak from the perspective of working in interpretation and curatorial on these projects of both the re-installation and art for new understanding, is we very actively pursued and asked for input from advisors, different types of advisers, scholars, artists, even staff members to really be honest and open about their concerns about the museum field historically. And so it’s a lot to thank them for, for working with us, and allowing us to learn and to grow.

Rod Bigelow:
Yeah, we’re inspired. We’re totally inspired by how willing people are to share their perspective, and we encourage that because that’s how we learn, that’s how we do better work. I think that’s what makes us all better as a community when we can come together and have a dialogue that’s respectful, but moves us forward together.

Sandy Edwards:
It makes it a richer experience, yeah.

Stace Treat:
Absolutely. One of the interesting things that we’ve done this year, and we’re going to talk about this in a few minutes, but the idea of asking ourselves, what is American art? You have to step back a minute and say, “Well, what does that include? Who does that include? How far back do we go? How far ranging do we go? Has been a really stimulating, challenging, and kind of intense experience. It’s an open question at least for a lot of us in the exhibitions and curatorial area about that open question of what constitutes American art. Do you have thoughts on that, Sandy?

Rod Bigelow:
Well, I think it’s freeing too, for every part of it that’s a challenge, you realize there’s this opportunity to rethink who an artist is by identity, national identity if they were born here and are American, but spend their life in Paris producing, does that constitute American any more than someone who was born in another country, but spends their majority here?

Rod Bigelow:
So I think it opens up a great deal of possibility and in many ways it reflects the American spirit. So I have enjoyed those conversations and think that it’s just going to get more robust as we become even more of a global society and particularly as it relates to too the relationship in North America where it really is American.

Stace Treat:
Exactly, right.

Rod Bigelow:
Sandy’s really articulating a contemporary perspective of this, but there’s also a historic perspective as well. We’ve got an exhibition called Art of a New Understanding. It teaches us very much about how these borders that we call America or not, are something that morph and change and historically hadn’t existed. So people exist in their environment, in the land, in a way that is very mobile and very changing and very adapted.

Stace Treat:
We might even say that a lot of indigenous folks, even today, don’t necessarily recognize the boundaries that might be considered legal and agreed upon by others. I’m glad that you mentioned our recent Art for New Understanding exhibition as it’s traveling. So it’s making its way around the country this year, which is another exciting thing we can talk about.

Stace Treat:
But let’s take a little palate cleanser here, and I want to play a little game with the two of you.

Rod Bigelow:
Oh no.

Stace Treat:
We’re going to do lightning round.

Sandy Edwards:
Okay.

Stace Treat:
Okay?

Rod Bigelow:
Nope.

Stace Treat:
Yep. So of course, you know the goal of this is to say the first thing that comes to your mind. Don’t think of it too much, Rod. I know you’re a thinker, so try not to think on it too much.

Rod Bigelow:
Are we both answering at the same time?

Stace Treat:
Sure. We’ll see what happens.

Sandy Edwards:
Good, game on.

Rod Bigelow:
I’m a little competitive.

Stace Treat:
Okay, so here’s the first one. Warhol or Basquiat?

Rod Bigelow:
Basquiat.

Sandy Edwards:
Basquiat, yeah.

Stace Treat:
That’s my answer too.

Sandy Edwards:
Okay.

Stace Treat:
American or European?

Sandy Edwards:
American.

Rod Bigelow:
American. Easy.

Stace Treat:
I think that was a trick question. Favorite art movement?

Sandy Edwards:
Early modernism.

Rod Bigelow:
Early modernism?

Rod Bigelow:
Sorry, that cracked me up.

Sandy Edwards:
Modernism.

Rod Bigelow:
Art movements are a thing of the past.

Stace Treat:
Hmm, good answer.

Sandy Edwards:
Okay. Is that a draw?

Stace Treat:
Yes. What’s your favorite work in the collection? This is hard.

Rod Bigelow:
The candy spill by Felix Gonzalez-Torres.

Sandy Edwards:
And I’ll go the opposite direction, the Martin Johnson Heade Haystacks, I think, is just exquisite.

Stace Treat:
Beyoncé or Jay-Z?

Sandy Edwards:
Beyoncé.

Rod Bigelow:
Beyoncé.

Stace Treat:
Okay, what inspires you?

Sandy Edwards:
Collaboration.

Rod Bigelow:
Other people.

Stace Treat:
That’s the same thing said two different ways. I like that. What book is on your nightstand right now?

Sandy Edwards:
I have “The Coddling of the American Mind” by Jon Haidt.

Rod Bigelow:
And mine is “Who the Hell Wants to Work for You” by Tim Eisenhauer.

Stace Treat:
That’s a great ending to that lightning round. Well, that was-

Rod Bigelow:
Thank you, Stace. That was adorable.

Stace Treat:
That was indeed an enlightening lightening round. Thank you both. We’ll be right back with Rod and Sandy after a quick message about our new exhibition. Men of Steel, Women of Wonder.

Stace Treat:
Superman and Wonder Woman are two of the most beloved icons in American pop culture. Created in times of economic adversity and world war, these characters quickly emerged as beacons of American morality, representing the ideals of truth, justice, and the American way. Opening February 9th and running through April 22nd, Men of Steel, Women of Wonder is a new exhibition developed by Crystal Bridges that examines art world responses to Superman and Wonder Woman, ranging from their depression era origins to today’s contemporary art interpretations. For more info, visit us at crystalbridges.org.

Stace Treat:
We’re back with Rod Bigelow and Sandy Edwards. Okay, let’s talk about 2018. What a year. We had what seventh anniversary, right, so we’re seven years old. We’ve welcomed over four million visitors. That kind of blows my mind. I think it blows a lot of other people’s minds.

Sandy Edwards:
In seven years, you’re right.

Stace Treat:
That was way beyond what I think even you all expected-

Rod Bigelow:
Oh, yeah.

Stace Treat:
… in the beginning. We’ve launched three new exhibitions. We’re traveling new shows, we’ve re-installed at least two galleries. I actually have been involved in this projects and technically it’s four that we re-installed this year. And we’ve activated our North Forest. It’s full of sculpture, and we’ll be getting even more so. I want to know what projects that each of you are really proud of in 2018.

Sandy Edwards:
Well I think the re-installation of the early American galleries was a tour de force. I will say from the process where we brought, and you were a part of this, a group of our valued colleagues together to really give thought to how do we talk about and how do we exhibit through art, the American spirit. It is not easy. As you said earlier, it’s a complicated story, but I think having thematic ways in which you can approach the art rather than strict chronological walk-through helps us with, certainly, with showing the complexity it, but it also gives us a far more diverse and I think more meaningful look at what it took to develop a nation that was early on just struggling to maintain and create some identity and then to have to fight for it.

Sandy Edwards:
So I think that was terrific, but it’s not our opinion that matters as much as it is our guests. And we have recently been able to see the research that has come from asking people about it. It does resonate. When you put up a wonderful work that says, “We the people,” and then ask who is the “we” and who is “the people”, I think that’s resonating and we’re getting very, very positive feedback. We do have some people, I will say, who liked it the way it was, and that’s okay. But we see our responsibility as continuing to move the narrative forward.

Stace Treat:
Yeah. And as you said, Rod had mentioned earlier, how do you deal with history when so much of that history, at least in art, wasn’t represented? Like there are a lot of people-

Sandy Edwards:
Exactly.

Stace Treat:
… who helped to build the nation who oftentimes were not reflected in the art practices of the day. So, we’re always trying to find interesting, creative, and innovative ways to try to tackle that problem and to allow voices to speak and faces to emerge.

Rod Bigelow:
The hard reality is they’re still not represented, and our job is to continue to enliven that conversation and bring to light those people who are underrepresented or under-recognized. That’s one of our big challenges going forward.

Stace Treat:
What’s one of your favorite projects this year, Rod?

Rod Bigelow:
So many things in my mind is sort of like lightning speed and running through all that. And I’m really proud of the team who is accomplished this, and also our team really believes that we accomplish nothing if we don’t have the support and engagement of our community. So that’s been thrilling to see throughout the year, all seven years.

Rod Bigelow:
I think the expansion into the grounds has been really intriguing and interesting to me. We started that in 2017 with the opening of the Dale Chihuly exhibition, which showed how engaging it is to have an experience in the Ozark Forest. This year, we’ve really invested in creating more programs in the forest, everything from Halloween experiences where we had 3,500 kids and adults dressed in wildly exuberant costumes to come through and experience what was happening out there.

Sandy Edwards:
Rod gave out candy.

Rod Bigelow:
Lots. To Light Night, which had 6,000 visitors, which everything from fire-breathing to illuminated bicycles to a big band. It was pretty incredible to see the whole community come out. But when we’re talking about going outdoors, we’re really talking about integrating the art and nature experience to its core. That’s a big part of our mission, and I think it gives a different context. We’ve started to talk about outdoors as gallery spaces, and those where you can engage with works very differently. It is an ever changing environment. We know that the seasons change it and the weather changes it. Who’s there, what’s happening around you, are all things that affect you and your emotional connection with works of art and with each other. I think in 2019, we will continue to expand that. So I’m really excited about continuing to build momentum around what happens outside and hope to engage and welcome more people there.

Stace Treat:
We’ll actually have our first temporary sculpture exhibition out in the forest in 2019, so stay tuned for that.

Sandy Edwards:
We’re really looking forward to that.

Stace Treat:
Yeah, that’s going to be exciting.

Rod Bigelow:
And a few surprises that you don’t know about, Stace.

Stace Treat:
I believe that. I believe that. I’m always excited to hear new things. The other thing too, I will mention, we had Cody George, our head-

Sandy Edwards:
Oh, the best.

Stace Treat:
… horticulturalist on the program, one of these earlier, and I think we’ll also be working with doing more interpretation of the flora and fauna, if you will, of the Ozark natural forests that we have. So good stuff coming up outside.

Rod Bigelow:
Yeah, really exciting. Hey Stace, now that you’ve asked us, we’d love to hear from you what your most memorable experience is in 2018.

Stace Treat:
Well, since Sandy said the reopening of the galleries, I will pick from my own work and experience getting to work on brand new exhibitions that we’ve created and developed here ourselves. This is a new big thing for us. We’ve already recently done… Well in 2014, we did State of the Art, and a follow-up version to that will be upcoming in the future, but I was able to work on The Beyond: Georgia O’Keeffe and Contemporary Art. That was a brand new show that is now traveling as well, and also Men of Steel, Women of Wonder, which is opening in February, on February 9th.

Stace Treat:
That’s been a really exciting process because I’ve been able to work with the curators sort of from the very beginning of their concept, their idea, and working through it with them, thinking through an interpretive lens, but also thinking about it to make it as strongest experience possible for the visitors. So I’m very excited. A total plug here for Men of Steel, Women of Wonder, opening February 9th.

Sandy Edwards:
And it’s such a great title.

Rod Bigelow:
We’re practically wearing our capes now.

Sandy Edwards:
Yes, oh I am.

Stace Treat:
You are, it’s very impressive.

Sandy Edwards:
Thank you.

Stace Treat:
Yeah, so props to to our assistant curator, Alejo Benedetti. This is his brainchild and-

Rod Bigelow:
His addiction.

Stace Treat:
His addiction, his passion, and it will show. So looking forward to 2019, let’s talk a little bit about what’s coming down the pike this year. What are you all looking forward to?

Sandy Edwards:
I think that there is again, this opportunity to really engage in the outdoors in an even expanded way. So as Rod just said, we’re going to have far more art that is going to be in our North Forest sculpture area, and we’re going to continue to program it really, I think, in thoughtful and fun ways. So we’re looking forward to that. And it’s interesting. Our challenge is often how do you get people outside when it’s cold, and we’ve decided to embrace that this year, so we’re not going to reveal in this particular podcast what that’s going to be, but I think it gives us an opportunity to really think more creatively and find ways in which we can bring the public out during times when maybe they’re not used to going outside or encountering the museum in that way.

Rod Bigelow:
Yeah, I think for me there’s nothing more exciting than change. Some of the team would challenge me on that, but I think for our guests we want to create new and additional experiences for them. So Sandy mentioned outdoors. We’ve acquired some pretty amazing new works indoors too that will create completely consumptive experiences. You’ll enter them, you’ll experience them, you’ll leave them.

Stace Treat:
Great.

Rod Bigelow:
We’re just dangling all sorts of ideas.

Stace Treat:
I love installation art.

Rod Bigelow:
Yeah, so that’s very exciting for us. I also am excited about our culinary program. I think sometimes we look at the visual arts, and we look at architecture, and we look at nature as the most impressive experiences that we have. But that culinary component where we all eat and our team in the museum is trying to extend that experience through taste and smells that are interesting, new, and fantastic. I think we will see that evolve and really accelerate next year too. So there’s the exhibitions you mentioned are phenomenal. They’ll travel around the country for many years, and you can’t miss what’s anything, any day at the museum.

Stace Treat:
Right. Another thing I would say that I’ve enjoyed being a part of is the… On our staff we have what’s called an Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Accessibility committee, so the IDEA committee. Part of what’s been exciting about being a part of that experience is getting to work with our staff members to learn more about each other, learn more about things that bring us together, things that make us different from one another, and I was just curious if you, Rod, have any idea about some things coming up that you can talk about in that realm?

Rod Bigelow:
So as far as inclusion is concerned, we’ll continue to do our efforts around continuing to collect and broaden our collection. The programming that we will continue to do and expand embraces multiple parts of the community. And we’re actually going to go out into the community and more robustly engage and listen to what people want from all across Northwest Arkansas. So you’ll find us listening and learning from advocacy groups or individually in groupings that we’ll pull together to just figure out what you want in your community. So that’s exciting for us to actually take our programs and our activities outside of the boundaries of the 120 acres that makes up Crystal Bridges.

Stace Treat:
Yeah. And there’s a lot of staff support for that. We’re all very excited to do that too because our staff is made up of people from all over, almost every community.

Rod Bigelow:
Right. And it’s amazing when we think about 600,000 or more people come to the museum every year, but still there many people that don’t. And there are lots of reasons for that, whether it’s transportation or economics or some norms that exist that keep people from coming. And so we want to go out and spend time and understand what people are interested in and how we can benefit their community in whatever way they might. So we’re excited about that. And then The Momentary, which-

Sandy Edwards:
We’re all very excited about. Of course now, in 2019 we’re just honing in on the opening, which is projected for 2020, and it’s going to be a place where we get to see artists in residence and art being made and really integrating the arts, so that we will look at music and film and dance as well as the visual arts, in a really wonderful facility, so the adaptive reuse of a former Kraft cheese plant. We’re all excited about it. It’s a new level of energy, and it just plays so well with the Crystal Bridges ethos of welcoming all.

Stace Treat:
Yeah, I guess in 2018, that was another one of the big things was we were able to announce The Momentary, we launched the website, we got the first videos, glimpses of the new facility, so now the community can share in our excitement for what’s coming down the road with that facility. They’re hiring new people.

Rod Bigelow:
It’ll energize a whole sector of the city in a brand new way. And we saw it with State of the Art in 2014, how living artists really embraced our community, were able to communicate really interesting ideas, and challenge and communicate with our community in very robust ways. Much of what we learned that experience will translate into The Momentary.

Stace Treat:
Yeah, we also learned that our community really likes contemporary art.

Sandy Edwards:
Yes, and I think that gave us certainly the faith and trust to move forward with this. I think too, it’s going to be a place where we’ll be able to do even more partnership with other performing arts groups, theater groups, others in our community. It opens up a whole new space, so that we’ll be thrilling, along with the idea of having a place inside Bentonville where we can have festivals.

Rod Bigelow:
We’re not going to tell you too much because that’s the director, Lieven Bertels, is going to share all of that.

Stace Treat:
That’s right. Rachel Tucker’s already lining up a future podcast episode featuring Lieven, so stay tuned.

Sandy Edwards:
A great new addition to our team.

Stace Treat:
Yes indeed. He’s great. So I look forward to talking with him and hearing his vision. But I’ve really enjoyed talking to the both of you. I really appreciate you taking your time because I know you’re very busy people, so thanks for popping in and sharing your thoughts with us on Museum Way.

Rod Bigelow:
Thanks, Stace. It’s been a pleasure.

Sandy Edwards:
Thanks, Stace.

Stace Treat:
On January 25th, join us for an exciting Spotlight Talk with contemporary Korean artist, Do Ho Suh. In this Spotlight Talk, Suh will share his sculptural practice, with special focus on the work Some/One, installed in the museum’s Contemporary Art Gallery. Working across various media creating drawings, film, and sculptural works, Suh confronts questions of home, physical space, displacement, memory, individuality, and collectivity. Tickets and more info at crystalbridges.org.

Stace Treat:
Thanks for tuning in to Museum Way. We hope you enjoyed the episode and tune in each month to hear more. Head over to our social media channels and leave a question or comment about what you’d like to hear on future episodes. I’m Stace Treat, and I’ll catch you next time, right here on Museum Way.

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