Partners in Art
The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art opened to the public on November 11, 2011. Sandy Edwards, deputy director of museum relations, said, “Our intention for Crystal Bridges is to be a gift to the region.”
Edwards said she hopes the museum inspires people around the region and raises awareness of American art for the area.
“There is a demand for art in the entire region,” Bethany Goodwin, public relations manager for Walton Arts Center said.
Goodwin said, this is why Walton Arts Center is expanding with a 2,200-seat theatre in Bentonville as well as adding a 600-seat theatre to the Fayetteville location.
“We are just trying to expand cultural arts around the area, not specifically Bentonville,” Edwards said, “we look at it as a region.”
“Recently, people have come to Walton Arts Center who has driven here to see Crystal Bridges. They have come to Fayetteville because they are usually people who are also interested in the performing arts here at Walton Arts Center,” Goodwin said.
A benefit of collaborating with Crystal Bridges is just to be able to work with them, Goodwin said.
Goodwin said, “The collaboration of the two of us makes our program stronger and increases our awareness.”
Edwards said that they have a great relationship with other museums.
With Crystal Bridges just opening, Goodwin said, “there is not much action, but more so talk” of future plans about the collaboration between Crystal Bridges and Walton Arts Center.
Goodwin said that most of the opportunity for Crystal Bridges is in art education.
Jeannie Hulen, a professor at University of Arkansas, said, “What the focus is between the two of us is an open relationship for a future dialogue and at this point we have nothing specifically laid out.”
Much of the discussion being done between the university and the museum is over how Crystal Bridges can have a partnership with the university’s art department on an academic level, Hulen said.
Crystal Bridges is just a short drive from the university, Hulen said, so they can actually “take students to the Crystal Bridges’ collection, teach their collection, and even have classes” that may be located at the museum to gain experience for certain art history classes.
“There are other discussions out there about collaborating with artists and different major lectures that we may do or they may do,” Hulen said, “and we have done some collaboration in the past through art education.”
Edwards, said, “We share our collections and the university shares their teaching strategies.”
At the moment, the university’s art department has two art historians that helped write for the Crystal Bridges catalog and this played another part in their collaboration, Hulen said.
Before Crystal Bridges opened, Edwards said, “We didn’t have anywhere to put things so we would loan out paintings.”
“There is talk of potentially trading and loaning of works,” but nothing loaned out from Walton Arts Center yet, Goodwin said.
Hulen said, for the opening year of Crystal Bridges, the university “loaned two of our Alexander Calder mobiles to them to visually express that we are a team for the future.”
“Our institutions are our own thing, but we want to have a very solid relationship in the future,” Hulen said.