Crystal Bridges celebrates its 10th birthday as only it knows how – with a new community-focused exhibit

Deborah Roberts, He looks like me, 2019, Mixed media on panel, 59 7/8 × 48 in.

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

On a beautiful day in November 2011, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opened its doors for the first time. Guests from near and far walked in to discover the fruits of years of planning, art collection and construction in the valley just north of downtown Bentonville.

In the nearly 10 years that have passed since that day, more than 5.5 million visitors have visited the museum, which has steadily increased the size of its own collection while also hosting various traveling exhibits. The mission is still growing. The museum has a new sister organization to showcase contemporary works and host events – The Momentary opened in 2020 – and the Crystal Bridges’ footprint is slated to grow with a massive expansion of the original facility.

To mark the 10-year celebration, Crystal Bridges is launching a new temporary exhibit called “Crystal Bridges at 10.” The assemblage of works serves as a greatest hits collection of sorts, while also purposefully inserting the local community into the artistic conversation.

Maxfield Parrish, The Lantern Bearers / Cystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Crystal Bridges at 10

When: July 11 to Sept. 27
Where: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville
Cost: $12; Free for Crystal Bridges members, SNAP participants, veterans, and youth 18 and under
Information: Call 479-418-5700 or

And, with a reconfiguration of the temporary exhibit space, it’s the largest temporary exhibit the museum has ever hosted in terms of square footage – 10,000, appropriately.

“You’ve never seen anything quite like this,” said Mindy Besaw, Curator of American Art and Director of Fellowships and Research for Crystal Bridges and one of two co-curators of the exhibit. Speaking during a virtual preview for media members, she told the group “It’s taking the number 10 as a cue, and showing 10 mini exhibitions in one.”

“Crystal Bridges at 10” brings back fan favorites that have been on loan or temporarily stored and makes sure they are on display.

“‘Lantern Bearers’ has been off the wall, and people have been noticing,” said Lauren Haynes, who co-curated this exhibit for Crystal Bridges but will be moving on from the museum after accepting a role at the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.

To help guests engage with Maxfield Parrish’s 1908 work, which features strange figures dressed in white hoisting lemon-like lanterns, the museum has replicated the lights in the physical world to create a photo opportunity. Guests can take the lanterns and strike their own post.

Or, those who remember Evan Penny’s hyper-realistic sculpture “Old Self: Portrait of the Artist as He Will (Not) Be. Variation #2” will see an old friend. It’s back– along with a sculpture Penny has created of his younger self. The sculpture of the younger version of the artist was recently gifted to the museum.

Another classic making a comeback is “Rosie the Riveter,” Norman Rockwell’s iconic image of a women serving as a laborer during World War II. Rosie returns next to images of Northwest Arkansas residents who stepped up in a recent time of need – the pandemic. Those on the walls were selected as community examples of those who selflessly served others.

Norman Rockwell, Rosie the Riveter, 1943, Oil on canvas, 52 x 40 in.

Courtesy of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art © SEPS licensed by Curtis Licensing. Photography by Dwight Primiano

Other ways Crystal Bridges is connecting with our region for “Crystal Bridges at 10” is by exploring the works housed by the University of Arkansas. The museum has a collection of nearly 7 million items but no traditional viewing space, meaning this is a rare opportunity for local residents to see many of the items. During the preview, images of aviary and insects were shown and look to be among those that will go on display with the new exhibit.

A series of lectures, tours and other events will accompany the new exhibit. To see a calendar of related events, visit the exhibit’s website.