BENTONVILLE -- Crystal Bridges at 10, the latest exhibit at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, features more than 130 works spanning 200 years of history to to celebrate the museum's first 10 years and set the precedent for the decade to come. The museum opened Nov. 11, 2011.
The exhibition opens to the public Saturday. The museum hosted a media preview Friday morning.
The exhibition is organized into 10 parts that explore artistic influences, the natural elements, portraiture, nature and more than one section engaging local creators.
"Truly, you have never seen our collection this way," Mindy Besaw, curator of American art and director of fellowships and research, promised members of the press on the virtual call.
The Temporary Exhibition Gallery recently expanded to include an additional 2,200 square feet, now totaling 10,000 square feet of exhibition gallery space, a press release details. Crystal Bridges at 10 will be the first temporary exhibition to include the additional gallery space.
Crowd favorites within the permanent collection -- like Norman Rockwell's "Rosie the Riveter," Maxfield Parrish's "The Lantern Bearers" and Andy Warhol's "Dolly Parton" -- are presented in new context alongside never before seen pieces and new works.
Works across time are paired together to spark new conversations, Besaw said, like in the section where Rosie is presented next to portraits of people from Arkansas who have contributed to the collective good during the difficult months of the pandemic.
"One of the cues that Lauren and I took is really looking at involving our community in a richer, more integrated way into our collection," Besaw said of the exhibition's co-curator Lauren Haynes, who is the director of artist initiatives and curator, contemporary art, at Crystal Bridges and the Momentary.
One place the community involvement manifested is in a section highlighting self portraits. In thinking about many of the impressive examples in the permanent collection, the curators used that as an impetus to draw regional voices into the museum, Haynes said.
K-12 students were invited to submit self portraits and 24 physical pieces were chosen to hang in the exhibition alongside the professional works. The rest of the 500 submissions will be shown on a screen in the space.
The curators were deliberately vague when discussing Crystal Bridges at 10 with reporters as it is nearly impossible to convey the experiential nature of the exhibition, they revealed.
Ten immersive art experiences will be found throughout the space, including a multi-sensory section that brings nature into the galleries, and a participatory tableau vivant -- or living picture -- where visitors can pose themselves inside a modern version of a fan-favorite painting.
Crystal Bridges at 10 is on display through Sept. 27. Tickets are $12 but free for members, veterans, children under 18 and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) participants.
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