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Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art Explores the Intersection of Art, Nature, and Science in Exquisite Creatures

Christopher Marley presents an artistic experience that unravels humanity’s intimate relationship with the natural world.

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BENTONVILLE, Ark. — On March 16, 2024, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art will open Exquisite Creatures, a three-dimensional exhibition that celebrates nature’s infinite variety. Created by artist and naturalist Christopher Marley, the show features more than 400 individual objects of preserved plant, animal, and mineral specimens, including crystals, lizards, beetles, parrots, butterflies, crabs, and much more. The stunning mix of colors and textures will be arranged in precise geometric compositions, creating a mosaic of the natural world intended to inspire wonder and foster a desire for preservation.  

“I believe visual enjoyment of the natural world is one of the most effective tools for motivating learning and understanding,” said Marley. “With Exquisite Creatures, we’re inviting Crystal Bridges visitors to immerse themselves in a world where order, diversity, symmetry, and balance come to life in vibrant, awe-inspiring displays. I couldn’t be happier to share this exhibition with the Arkansas community – I hope everyone who sees it is inspired to develop a deeper connection to the outside world.” 

Throughout the exhibition, guests will have the rare opportunity to view many wondrous creatures up close, prompting them to take a deeper look at their environment. While Exquisite Creatures is on view, Crystal Bridges will also celebrate biophilia, the love of life, through various community programs, including an art-making activation with “Creature Kits” at local libraries and a Cocktail Crawl in partnership with local restaurants. 

Additionally, the museum will host an opening lecture given by the artist on March 15, a Creature Fest on March 16, a week of spring break family-centered activities, K-12 school tours of the exhibition where students can create their own exquisite creature to be displayed in the museum, and special programming encouraging outdoor exploration of the institution’s own trails and grounds. 

The experience of and appreciation for nature is central to our mission at Crystal Bridges,” said Samantha Best, landscape and outdoor experience manager for Crystal Bridges. “The museum is situated on 120 acres of native Ozark forest, which includes natural springs, streams, geographical features, and a host of native plants and animals. Through Exquisite Creatures, we’re giving our visitors the unique opportunity to view the diversity of our grounds with a fresh set of eyes. We’re thrilled to host this exhibition and encourage guests to reflect deeper on the intricate beauty of the outdoors.”   

Crystal Bridges’ Trails and Grounds are accessible year-round and are a must-see part of the museum experience. Learn more about the institution’s surrounding areas here: 

Exquisite Creatures is on view at Crystal Bridges from March 16 through July 29, 2024. Tickets to the exhibition are $12 for adults. Members, SNAP participants, Veterans, and youth 18 and under are free. To purchase a ticket, please visit the museum’s website. SNAP participants, please call (479) 657-2335 to enroll for free entry to temporary exhibitions. For more information on the exhibition and its upcoming programming, please visit the exhibition webpage. 

All organisms used in Exquisite Creatures, and throughout all of Christopher Marley’s work, are either reclaimed or sustainably obtained through a large network of people and institutions that share his passion for nature.  

Exquisite Creatures is sponsored by The Coca-Cola Company, Serfco, Gelmart, and Marybeth and Micky Mayfield.   


About Christopher Marley 

Christopher Marley is an artist, naturalist, photographer, and author who uses preserved natural specimens as his medium. He grew up in the Pacific Northwest, immersed in nature from his earliest memories. During a decade spent traveling the world as a fashion model, Marley’s passion for discovering unfamiliar elements in the natural world became an obsession.   

His work was born of a desire to share nature’s majesty in a way that inspires both the urbane and the nature aficionado equally. Marley believes that in the proper light, beauty is found in every organism and that the deeper our appreciation for the aesthetics of nature, the more eager we are to immerse ourselves in it and conserve it.   

All of the vertebrates that Marley uses in his work are reclaimed after dying of natural or incidental causes. He has innovated techniques for a host of organisms that are not typically considered good candidates for preservation. He also utilizes insects that are collected or bred in an environmentally sensitive manner using a worldwide network of people and institutions that share his passion for nature.   

Marley’s work explores the deep relationships between vastly different natural objects and the love and unity we intrinsically feel with them and with nature as a whole. His first book, “Pheromone,” was named one of the best books of the year by The Times (UK). His second book, “Biophilia,” was a New York Times Best Seller. 

Marley’s traveling museum exhibits have been experienced by millions of visitors in North America, Europe, and Asia.   

About Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

The mission of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature. Since opening in 2011, the museum has welcomed more than 10.8 million visitors across its spaces, with no cost for admission. Crystal Bridges was founded in 2005 as a non-profit charitable organization by arts patron and philanthropist, Alice Walton. The collection spans five centuries of American masterworks from early American to current day and is enhanced by temporary exhibitions. The museum is nestled on 120 acres of Ozark landscape and was designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie. A rare Frank Lloyd Wright-designed house was preserved and relocated to the museum grounds in 2015. Crystal Bridges offers public programsincluding lectures, performances, classes, and teacher development opportunities. Some 300,000 school children have participated in the Willard and Pat Walker School Visit program, which provides educational experiences for school groups at no cost to the schools. Additional museum amenities include a restaurant, gift store, library, and five miles of art and walking trails. In February 2020, the museum opened the Momentary in Downtown Bentonville (507 SE E Street), conceived as a platform for the art, food, and music of our time. In 2026, Crystal Bridges will complete a nearly 100,000 square foot expansion that will allow the museum to expand access for all. For more information, visit The museum is located at 600 Museum Way, Bentonville, Arkansas 72712.