As a museum building and art collection it is world class. I get muddled when I find my thoughts drifting to what it took to acquire the great wealth necessary to build and sustain this fabulous place. How many sweat shops, how much child labor, how many ravaged rain forests, how many small businesses forced in to bankruptcy did it take to make merchandise available to the people of WalMart? Many people were visiting the museum the day we were there, a mid-week, off-season, non-holiday week. But they did not look much like WalMart shoppers or employees. In a way, it felt like another layer of creating wealth for a certain class of people from the efforts of a poorer class, and I feel a bit elitist and guilty for enjoying it. And at the same time I feel gratitude for the effort to support, maintain, and share this civilizing element of our culture. I'm so confused!
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Yesterday's great escape took me to Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, Arkansas. Friends Sharon, Sue and I drove through gorgeous springtime Ozarks country to the new (November 2011) facility funded by Alice Walton of Walmart fame. The building was designed by architect Moshe Safdie, who according to his firm's website is . . ."committed to architecture that responds to human needs and aspirations and is informed by the geographic, social, and cultural elements that define a place." It's a slightly strange string of connected pods that appear to have been extruded into the landscape. A couple of the pods resemble armadillos. Yet it is quite beautiful and a wonderful museum. The interior space does a fabulous job of displaying the art. The works are at the right height, with plenty of viewing distance, and great lighting. And very attentive guards who make certain you do not violate the 18 inch invisible barrier between the viewer and the art.