Copyright 2005 Ben S. Pollock
Friday, May 27, 2005: Here are a few tips on how to enjoy having a major museum in your area. This is advice for locals. Tourists, get on the Web or contact AAA; this isn’t for you.
Bentonville’s coming Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art (isn’t it nice that for a change a big public space that is privately funded is not named for a big shot or a corporation?) will be a new concept for old-timers of all ages.
Going to the museum comprises an afternoon one to six times a year. I’m speaking as a resident of Fayetteville who does not have a daily commute to Bentonville. It’ll be maybe 40 minutes away. That’s nothing for people used to commuting, but for some of us, that time requires planning. You park, pay admission (though some of the exhibits and the surrounding park will be free, according to plans) and enjoy one to three hours looking around.
Museum admission is aggravating but even in a place like Chicago it’s rarely more than a movie ticket. Get over it. Take the kids, by all means.
Of course, the last stop will be the gift shop. I hate it, but museum stores are fun.
Before or after the walk-around, have lunch at the museum cafe. It won’t be too expensive, just a little bit. But these bistros have a just-right amount of refinement, appropriate for a special day. It’s also quite nice to break up the museum visit with a snack in the midst of looking around, heading back after coffee for the galleries you missed, or whatever.
As for me, I see my wife and I hitting the museum then dinner at perhaps Copeland’s in Rogers on the way home.
There will be thousands of lucky people for whom Crystal Bridges is just five to 15 minutes away. Go often.
It’d be a great idea to become a member of the museum, however they organize that. So for an annual, tax-deductible fee, you get free admission for all but the super-duper traveling exhibits, and probably gift shop and cafe discounts.
This will be a great lunch-break spot. Stroll through a gallery or two, eat lunch there, or brown-bag and sit on the grounds. Bet there’ll be sculptures out there.
Hey, I’ve done this, living just a mile from the Arkansas Arts Center in Little Rock, and visited many other museums over the years. It’s very nice to have this opportunity. If the Ozarks no longer is some rural hit-or-miss sprawl of trees, colleges, chicken farms and Wal-Marts, let’s be a small version of Fort Worth — not Dallas. -30-