Checking in With Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

The Art Newspaper publishes an annual list of the top 100 art museums in the world as measured by attendance. Though northwest Arkansas’ own doesn’t crack the list (topped by the Louvre, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art and the British Museum), it does get a nice mention:

“New museums that recorded impressive visitor figures include the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas, which is free to enter thanks to Walmart’s sponsorship,” the newspaper says, adding that the institution had “attracted 565,448 visitors in 2012, more than double the number expected.”

Its Norman Rockwell exhibit, showing all 323 of his Saturday Evening Post covers and continuing through May 27, has been particularly popular, the museum tells us. But that’s hardly the only recent development at Crystal Bridges:

  • Don Bacigalupi, promoted a few months ago from executive director to museum president, has taken to posting weekly on arts and culture for The Huffington Post. 
  • John Trumbull’s portrait of Alexander Hamilton will become part of the permanent collections of both Crystal Bridges and the Metropolitan Museum thanks to a gift from the global investment bank Credit Suisse, which had owned the painting. Each museum will own a half share of the work, which has been on loan to Crystal Bridges from Credit Suisse since the museum opened in November 2011. The portrait will move to the Metropolitan this summer and return to Bentonville next year.
  • Andy Warhol’s 1977 Cold War commentary “Hammer and Sickle” is now on view at Crystal Bridges, acquired for more than $3.4 million at Sotheby’s, according to The Art Newspaper. The paper also noted the purchase at Christie’s of Donald Judd’s “Untitled, 1989 (Bernstein 89 24)” for nearly $10.2 million and the previously announced acquisition of Mark Rothko’s “No. 210/No. 211 (Orange),” a purchase, the paper said, experts have put at $25 million. As Bacigalupi observed on HuffPo, Warhol’s work “confounded many when it was made, but in the context of a museum collection spanning the history of American art, it has great resonance about the times and Warhol himself.”