After our light breakfast this morning, we joined Jim and Ginny for a drive to and tour of the Sam Walton museum in Bentonville, Arkansas. Bentonville reminded me of a small California town, with a beautiful square and lots of shops, cafes, and coffee shops surrounding it. The Sam Walton museum provided a history of Walmart and Sam Walton; one interesting fact is that Sam Walton became an Eagle scout at the age of 13. The most interesting exhibits were his office and his old Ford 3/4 ton bird hunting truck.
From the Sam Walton Museum, we drove to Crystal Bridges, an American art museum built by Alice Walton. Crystal Bridges sits on 120 acres of wooded land in Bentonville. The buildings themselves are of a bridge-type design surrounding a couple of large reflection pools fed by Crystal Spring outflows. Conceived and designed by world-renowned architect, Moshie Safdie, the strong presence of wood in the modern structure creates a dramatic setting for displaying some of America’s most famous and historical art from colonial times to the present. After driving through the museum grounds to the parking lot, the buildings sit down in a valley, and as you walk toward the entrance, you are greeted by a life-size chromed metal tree. Registration was simple and fast, and there is no admission charge, courtesy of Walmart. We had lunch at the café and the food was quite good and the prices were reasonable. We then proceeded to the museum, beginning with art from the colonial period. The paintings of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton were among the first to be viewed. Though there were many great pieces of work, my favorite was Rosie the Riveter, and it has far deeper implications than one can imagine without seeing and studying it closely.
The grounds were spectacular as well, with several pieces of sculpture along the many trails and viewing areas, and there was a short bike trail on the grounds as well, again with art along the way. Although we only walked a short distance on one of the trails, we would like to have spent all day exploring the area. A return visit is an absolute must—both to view the art, and to walk and bike the grounds.
Our group dinner was at La Hacienda in Fayetteville, and we all had a great time and good food, before adjourning back to the pavilion at Road Hog Park.