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America's Best Small-Town Museums

America's Best Small-Town Museums: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Photograph by Timothy Hursley, courtesy of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR

Casting her curatorial net (and considerable wealth) far and wide, Alice Walton gathered centuries of exceptional American art, from the Colonial era up to the present. The works by Gilbert Stuart, John Singer Sargent, Andy Warhol, and Jackson Pollock, to name just a few, would make any big city proud. But Walton set her project in a place critically underserved by cultural institutions, the Ozarks town of Bentonville, where Sam Walton opened his first five and dime. Designed by Israeli-American architect Moshe Safdie with an eye toward connecting with the landscape, the museum is made up of eight interconnected galleries built in and around spring-fed pools, surrounded by forests, ravines, and miles of hiking trails. It helped inspire the opening of 21c, a nearby art-filled boutique hotel with a locavore restaurant. Free; crystalbridges.org.

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