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With a world-renowned museum and decades-old galleries, Arkansas is gaining a reputation as an art destination. February, the month of love, seems like a perfect time to explore Arkansas Destinations for Art Lovers.
Many would argue that there are multiple ways to explore art. Food can be art. Fashion can be art. Nature can be art. Music can be art. History can be art. Junk can be art. Street Alleys can be art. Metal can be art. Houses can be art. Courthouses can be art. Minerals can be art.
So, if beauty is in the eye of the bolder, it’s time to look at the Natural State in a new way. Let’s take an Arkansas tour for Art Lovers!
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art | Bentonville
At Crystal Bridges, Alice Walton’s dream of creating an “active incubator for innovation and creativity” comes to life in the halls and nature surrounding the museum’s outdoor spaces. The museum’s main galleries are free and open to the public, with rotating exhibits offered on timed entries. In addition, the grand hall and Eleven’s dining hall provide open spaces for reflection, fellowship and dreaming. The 21C Hotel on the Bentonville square accompanies this trip with an extended exploration of touring modern art selections.
Frank Lloyd Wright Bachman-Wilson House | Bentonville
Nestled on a hill behind Crystal Bridges, this Frank Lloyd Wright house was rescued from a marshy wetland and preserved in the Ozarks. The self-paced tour, with audio narration, shares the home’s history, describing the former owners’ architectural narrative and family life. It’s a beautiful add-on experience to touring Crystal Bridges and the Compton Gardens.
Compton Gardens | Bentonville
Behind the home of a former physician, photographer and Buffalo River champion, Neil Compton, are 6 acres of wooden areas with meadows, champion trees, public art, bike trails and walking paths. This public space is an oasis in the heart of downtown Bentonville, connecting the square to Crystal Bridges. Here families, art enthusiasts, and mountain bikers intersect on woven paths filled with outside, public OZ Art.
The Momentary | Bentonville
This modern art space is a sister museum to Crystal Bridges. Once a dairy processing facility, the bare-bones of this industrial space are the first work of art to any guest. Outdoor spaces for concerts connect with some and the Tower Bar, overlooking the region, is the highlight for other guests. Many of these exhibits are immersive and experiential mediums.
Museum of Native American History | Bentonville
It may seem weird to list a Native American history museum as an art destination. Still, the amount of Native American pottery, clothing, and jewelry makes it a stand-alone destination worthy of a visit.
Fort Smith Regional Art Museum | Fort Smith
This museum originated in 1948 as an esteemed place for local artists to display their work. Over time the hands of leadership changed until 2013 when a complete rebrand launched new energy and attention. Even the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as an example of Mid-Century Modern architecture. In Jan., an exhibit opened featuring original works by Pablo Picasso and other Madoura pottery artists from Southern France. While in Fort Smith, do not miss The Unexpected public art tour around the town.
Bradbury Museum and Fowler Performing Arts Center | Jonesboro
The Bradbury is located on the campus of Arkansas State University but is free and open to the public. The museum displays contemporary art and tells the story of art and its importance to society. In addition, each year, they are home to the Delta National Small Prints Exhibition, a juried art show for national and international artists.
The Bernice Garden | Little Rock
While it’s viewed as a public events venue, this outdoor space is home to a beautiful sculptural garden featuring glass mulch and large art installations among a sustainably planted garden. While in the area, do not miss stopping at the Vogel Schwartz Sculptural Garden on the riverfront. Both of these locations are part of the Little Rock Sculpture Tour.
Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, formerly Arkansas Arts Center | Little Rock
This inclusive cultural space focuses on visual arts, performing arts and educational experiences. This museum replaces the Arkansas Arts Center, an outpouring project from 1914 of the Fine Arts Club. The building at MacArthur Park is finishing renovations and will reopen in April 2023.
Photo used with permission from Arkansas Parks, Heritage, and Tourism.
Esse Purse Museum | Little Rock
There is no more unique museum in Arkansas than the Esse Purse Museum. One of only three purse museums in the world, the permanent collection features the history and transformation of purses and celebrates the artist who made them. Imagine what they will say someday about the belt bag!
Arts and Science Center for Southeast Arkansas | Pine Bluff
Home to three exhibit halls, a youth activity space and a 200-seat theater, this community space, with recent additions for the ART Space and ARTWorks, expanded the opportunity of influence for rising arts through an artist-in-residence program. Upcoming exhibits plan to unfold a story of American and African American experiences.
South Arkansas Arts Center | El Dorado
SAAC is a combined visual and performing arts center for people of all ages, stages and abilities. This art center features three exhibit halls, a staged theater, costume spaces and a photography studio. Current exhibits include watercolors, art on paper juried shows, abstracts, kaleidoscope paintings, mixed media sculpture and illustrations.
If you visit any of these destinations for art lovers, tag us in your posts and share what you liked the most.
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