Anyone who is an artist, or has a love and fascination for art, history, or museums could find themselves to be quite comfortable and satisfied with the options they have to choose from in NWA. The metropolitan area of NWA has about 20 museums within the three counties it is made up of. Several of the museums in this area are world-renowned and receive visitors from all over the world. These organizations also regularly receive visitors that are already community members, as many of the museums are interactive and changing, making it an easy decision to revisit!
The most famous museum in NWA, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, is a 201,000 square foot structure that sits on 120 acres of interactive and art-filled forest, and garden.
Crystal Bridges also conveniently adjoins to the Bentonville Square in Benton County. This non profit museum has a dynamic mission to welcome all to celebrate the American spirit in a setting that unites the power of art with the beauty of nature. Crystal Bridges was designed by world-renowned architect Moshe Safdie, and features a natural spring and bridge that were incorporated into the building. Pavilions surround the two spring-fed ponds and house galleries as a place for visitors to eat, relax, or observe the breathtaking views. Within the walls there are classroom and meeting spaces, as well. Crystal Bridges has an elegant, glass-enclosed gathering hall, as well as a restaurant that is on a glass-enclosed bridge overlooking the ponds and surrounding nature. This museum is home to over 50,000 volumes of art reference material, and is a wonderful place to visit, and use for resources, for those furthering their knowledge of art! Crystal Bridges has a permanent collection of five centuries of master artworks, dating from the present back to the colonial era. Many of the items in these collections depict moments of the American Artistic Evolution, and all the permanent collection is available to view year-round! Not only does Crystal Bridges provide their collection all year, they also have year-round programs for all ages. 45,000 school-aged children visit Crystal Bridges every year, and the options to experience performances, classes, lectures, and continuing education for teachers K-12. The Willard and Pat Walker School Visit Program is responsible for so many thousands of individuals to visit this non-profit organization. This program offers reimbursement for all trip costs, as well as lunch for the children that visit. Not only do they reimburse schools for their trip to Crystal Bridges Museum, they also offer two different art-centered scholarships!
Crystal Bridges Museum is a beautiful structure, filled with arts from years past and present. Yet there is so much more to this museum than the building itself, and even more to appreciate outside of its’ walls. Surrounding the museum structure is a 120 acre park that has an impressive 8 different walking and biking trails. Each trail has nature-centric architecture and beautiful native plants to view while you stroll or bike your way through. The park itself is central to the museums’ mission, in that it simply expands your experience by giving you the opportunity to see, and appreciate art in nature amongst the different plants and wildlife present along the trails. With 3.5 miles of trails, that are interconnecting to multiple different biking trails, there is no shortage in space to find beauty and art in everything surrounding Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
Another famous museum in NWA is the Amazeum Children’s Museum, and it is just a short drive down the road from Crystal Bridges! The Amazeum is a great place to stop at if you need several hours of interactive and educational play for your children. A non-profit organization, the Amazeum was created after 10 years of valiant community support and fundraising. With 50,000 square feet of exhibits and learning spaces that bring learning to life, your children could spend hours trying out different hands-on activities provided there. The Amazeum has permanent and temporary exhibitions, but the list of permanent ones alone is impressive! The permanent exhibitions are the 3M Tinkering Hub, General Mills Lift Load and Haul, the Market by Walmart, Nature Valley Water Amazements, the Nickelodeon Play Lab, and the Hershey’s Lab. Weather your little one is just starting to walk or is going into middle school, the climbing and interactive play here will keep them entertained enough that you easily get your monies worth! Not only is there all of that inside of the building, but there is also an acre of of play space outdoors. This is a great place for learning, year round. There are a variety of educational programs that the Amazeum provides such as Early Learner, Home School, 4H programs, summer and spring break camps, as well as Amazing Camps, cub scouts, and girl scouts! If you relocate to NWA and you have littles, getting an Amazeum Membership is a must-do on your moving list! There are even more privileges and events that are only available to members, and if you’re not sure you want to be one, there’s always the Priceless Nights events to bring the family to to try it out!
If you’re looking on the other side of NWA in Washington County for some art to check out or a museum to wander through, then you’re in luck. In Springdale you can find places like the Art Expo NWA. This expo promotes local, national, and international artists. The Art Expo NWA prides itself on its ability to communicate and collaborate with anyone or any organization working in or supporting arts in this region. It is also a market place! There are art buyers, art producers, and they can meet in new ways and come to a new understanding of art in daily life. The expo provides many different kinds of art from a vast array of artists. Impressionists and post impressionists, contemporary artists, ceramic art, oil paintings, music, sculptures, and photography are only some of the things found here!
Another establishment to visit if you’re on that side of town, is ArtVentures in Fayetteville. ArtVentures mission is to promote visual arts in NWA, actively collaborating with the community, supporting artists hard work, encouraging education and public engagement in the arts, and to provide accessibility to under-represented communities. ArtVentures is an art business practice that focuses on art education and serving micro-communities and artist with diverse backgrounds. Their intent is to create a story of cultural experiences, and they are also an arts incubator and collaborator. This wonderful business helps promising artists to advance through mentoring, art education, and time. You can see the art from these amazing growing artists displayed when you visit! If art-education is what you’re looking for, not far from ArtVentures is another great place to gain some more knowledge. The Community Creative Center, in the heart of the Fayetteville art and entertainment district, is a 6,900 square foot non-profit studio and a great place to explore. They provide youth classes, spring and summer art camps as well as year-round affordable arts experiences, professional development, and in-school residencies. They provide pottery, drawing, multi-purpose studios, and retail exhibition space for local artists. ArtVentures does a great job of making art accessible to everyone!
If you’re looking for something a little smaller that will take up less of your day, but will still be educational, there are options for that, too. The Native American History Museum is in Bentonville, and is full of art, history, and culture. They have an important mission; to acquire, preserve, and study Native American artifacts, as well as to educate future generations about the lives of the first Americans. This impressive museum houses over 10,000 of the finest Native American artifacts around. Artists also donate collections on a loan for some of their exhibitions, so you never know what kind of treat you’re going to get! If you are more interested in the medical field, there is a museum for you, too. The Arkansas Country Doctor Museum in Lincoln preserves and celebrates the history of healthcare in rural America, as well as the people who served their fellow man by providing that healthcare.
Lastly, if you are interested in learning a little bit about the business that had a huge hand in what made NWA what it is today, then the little Walton 5 & 10 Store and Museum is definitely something to mark on the map! This small museum is a digital museum that teaches the history of Walmart as a corporation, and how it grew from that one small five and dime store to one of the biggest companies in the world. The museum itself is the first store ever opened by Mr. Walton and it was just the beginning of the monumental enterprise to come. Then when you’ve finished learning about how Walmart became the retail king, you can grab some old time gum, candy, or toys on your way out!
NWA is busting out the seams with art, history, museums, and interactive ways to experience them all! Whether you love to stroll through a forest, or meander along in front of an art gallery wall, there is opportunity surrounding you to find education in any art you prefer. NWA is full of budding artists and people that find pride in helping them along. Anywhere you go in NWA you risk finding a beautiful mural, breathtaking sculpture or a melody that will whisk your cares away. There is art, nature, music, history, everywhere. NWA is proud to hold places full of such beauty and wonder, and all who come are welcome to experience this beauty, too!