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The Path to Crystal Bridges: New Exhibition Showcases the Work of Architect Moshe Safdie

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art is known not only for its remarkable collection of American masterworks, but also for its breathtaking architecture and natural setting. The museum was designed by international architect Moshe Safdie, with specific attention to integrating the building complex with the landscape and providing a venue in which guests could enjoy art, architecture, and nature simultaneously. On October 13, Crystal Bridges will open Moshe Safdie: The Path to Crystal Bridges, a temporary exhibition that traces the fascinating design development of the museum by showcasing four of Safdie’s earlier buildings whose architecture helped to inform Crystal Bridges. This exhibition will illuminate Safdie’s path to Crystal Bridges by highlighting his aesthetic language of transcendent light, powerful geometric form, and metaphoric imagery. The exhibition is sponsored by Nabholz Construction Services and Linbeck, and will be on view through Jan. 28, 2013.

Moshe Safdie has created iconic buildings in countries around the world. His design for Crystal Bridges is completely unique, and yet references elements from several of his other national and international projects. Four of these projects are highlighted, through scale models, photographs, video, and architectural drawings, in this exhibition.

Habitat ’67, the groundbreaking multi-family dwelling that brought Safdie international attention at the 1967 Montreal World Exposition, embodies some of the core concepts that can be seen in Crystal Bridges today—in particular, a sophisticated synthesis of architecture and landscape, featuring rooftop gardens and terraces that were integrated into the built forms.

Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum in Jerusalem features a sky-lit concrete tunnel that cuts through one of the site’s hills. This project showcases Safdie’s masterful use of light as a means of creating emotion and atmosphere. As visitors leave the tunnel, its walls open onto a breathtaking panoramic view of the countryside. Crystal Bridges’ design was also influenced by the use of dramatic outdoor vistas.

The National Gallery of Canada, like Crystal Bridges, features an innovative use of glass, including a glazed colonnade and an elaborately sky-lit great hall. The manner in which this building’s roof-shapes evoke the adjacent historic buildings also showcases Safdie’s ability to adapt his designs to merge seamlessly with a site’s historical and natural context.

Safdie’s design for the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles most closely resembles Crystal Bridges in its use of architectural concrete banded in cedar. A complex of pavilions is located on two levels and built into the hillside, marrying the structures to the natural surroundings. The Skirball’s design, featuring interior spaces linked by outdoor courtyards, amphitheaters, and landscaped ravines, was a powerful influence on the final concept for Crystal Bridges.

Moshe Safdie: The Path to Crystal Bridges will show concurrently with See the Light: The Luminist Tradition in American Art, a temporary exhibition which traces the evolution of light through the history of American art. Members will be invited to a Members-only Preview prior to the public opening; the exhibitions will be on view at Crystal Bridges through Jan. 28, 2013, with no admission fee or advance tickets required. Additional information about this and other upcoming exhibitions is available online at

About Moshe Safdie

Moshe Safdie is an architect, urban planner, educator, theorist, and author who embraces a comprehensive and humane design philosophy. Safdie is committed to architecture that supports and enhances a project’s program; that is informed by the geographic, social, and cultural elements that define a place; and that responds to human needs and aspirations.

Safdie has designed and realized a wide range of projects around the world, including cultural, civic, and educational institutions; mixed-use urban centers and airports; and master plans for existing neighborhoods and entirely new cities. Many of his buildings have become beloved regional and national landmarks, including Habitat 67, Montreal, Canada; Exploration Place Science Center, Wichita, Kansas; Salt Lake City Public Library, Salt Lake City, Utah; Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Massachusetts; Skirball Cultural Center, Los Angeles, California; the National Gallery of Canada; and Yad Vashem Holocaust Museum, Jerusalem, Israel.

In 1978, after teaching at Yale, Safdie relocated his residence and principle office to Boston, where he also served as the Director of the Urban Design Program at the Harvard University Graduate School of Design, and subsequently was the Ian Woodner Professor of Architecture and Urban Design.

In addition to Crystal Brides Museum of American Art, major projects by Moshe Safdie currently under construction or recently completed include Mamilla Alrov Center, a 40-acre development that runs contiguous with the Old City in Jerusalem; Marina Bay Sands, a mixed-use integrated resort in Singapore; Khalsa Heritage Memorial Complex, the national museum of the Sikh people in India; the United States Institute of Peace Headquarters in Washington, D.C.; the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri; and Golden Dream Bay, a residential and retail complex in Qinhuangdao, China.

About Crystal Bridges Museum of American Artu>

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 landscape. We explore the unfolding story of America by actively collecting, exhibiting, interpreting, and preserving outstanding works that illuminate our heritage and artistic possibilities.

Opened to the public on 11-11-11, Crystal Bridges was founded in 2005 by philanthropist Alice Walton, who chairs the museum’s board of directors. The museum takes its name from a nearby natural spring and the bridge construction incorporated in the building design by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie. A series of pavilions nestled around two spring-fed ponds house galleries, meeting and classroom spaces, and a large, glass-enclosed gathering hall. Guest amenities include a restaurant on a glass-enclosed bridge overlooking the ponds and a museum store designed by architect Marlon Blackwell. Sculpture and walking trails link the museum’s 120-acre park to downtown Bentonville, Arkansas.

Crystal Bridges’ permanent collection spans five centuries of American masterworks ranging from the Colonial era to the current day. Included within the collection are iconic images such as Asher B. Durand’s Kindred Spirits, Rosie the Riveter by Norman Rockwell, and Andy Warhol’s Dolly Parton, each reflecting a distinct moment in American artistic evolution. In addition to historical works, the museum’s collection also showcases major works by modern and contemporary American artists, including Roy Lichtenstein, James Turrell, and Georgia O’Keeffe, providing visitors with a unique opportunity to experience the full scope of American art.

Crystal Bridges will continue to grow its collection through the efforts of its professional staff as well as through important gifts from private collectors. The permanent collection, which is on view year-round, is further enhanced by an array of ongoing temporary exhibitions.

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