Crystal Bridges Offers Sneak Peek, Announces Three Additional Works

(Slideshow: has photos of construction along with a sample of the new art acquired by the museum.)

Employees of the fledgling Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville gave a "sneak peek" tour to media and select members of the northwest Arkansas business community Wednesday. About 160 people attended.

Director Don Bacigalupi made several announcements from an open-air space that will become the museum's library, designed to eventually hold about 50,000 art-related volumes.

Three new works were introduced into the museum's permanent collection: a 1985 Andy Warhol titled "Dolly Parton" is a 42-inch by 42-inch paint and silk screen ink on canvas; a 1966 porcelain enamel on steel sculpture by Roy Lichtenstien called "Standing Explosion (Red)"; and an 1808 oil on canvas painting by Benjamin West titled "Cupid and Psyche".

Bacigalupi said the West painting was recently added to the collection. Christie's auction house reported selling "Cupid and Psyche" for $458,500 in January 2009 to an anonymous buyer.

A local architect will be able to put his mark on the Crystal Bridges project. Marlon Blackwell will design the museum's 3,000-SF retail store. He was awarded the contract in late March after submitting concepts with other Arkansas architects. Blackwell said the interior of the store will be designed with an emphasis on Arkansas native cherry and walnut woods milled within the state.

Bacigalupi also announced the addition of two new team members. Rod Bigelow comes from the Toledo Museum of Art to serve as the Crystal Bridges deputy director of operations and administration. Case Dighero, the former owner of Soul Restaurant in Fayetteville, has been brought on as the museum's food and beverage director.

The museum is likely a year from completion, but most of the foundation work is set and skeletons of main buildings are erected.

Virginian Germann, director of museum relations, said 50,000 cubic yards of architectural concrete has been poured in the construction process of the museum. That's equivalent to more than 5,555 typical concrete trucks.

Contractors are taking care to minimize the impact on the 100-acre site. Concrete is produced on the grounds and the design allows for only six feet of space between the buildings and the natural forestation.

"It's a jewel," said Bentonville Mayor Bob McCaslin. He speculated the museum would be a boon to tourism in Benton County, but "a different kind of tourism," meaning a new audience.

In terms of economic impact, "It'll be a U of A football game every day for awhile," said Ed Clifford, president and CEO of the Bentonville/Bella Vista Chamber of Commerce.

In 2007, the museum said it expected to attract 250,000 people per year to its turnstiles, including locals.

More on Crystal Bridges

Museum acquires "Flatboat Men," an 1865 painting by Robert Scott Duncanson, and a tapestry, "A Warm Summer Evening in 1863," a 2008 work by Kara Walker

Museum's collection turns toward modern works

Museum eyes open for end of 2011, start of 2012

Walton family backs major hotel near museum

Crystal Bridges to house major book collection

Alice Waltons' role in Crystal Bridges vision is "critical"

Crystal Bridges acquires Walton Ford's "The Island"

Museum to expand tourism in the region

"Rosie the Riveter" joins Crystal Bridges collection

Alice Walton's Crystal Bridges will test the power of art