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Let’s all agree on one thing, if you have to use the term “world-class” then you probably aren’t, but that’s not to say that Arkansas’s “world-class” Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art isn’t going to make a splash next month when it opens in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Philip Kennicott of the Washington Post gets the first look at the institution and has this to say:
While millionaires and billionaires before her have created museums, Walton’s Crystal Bridges — with its mix of contemporary and classic art, and its origins in the frugal, self-made ethos of the Wal-Mart empire — feels decidedly different from the museums of the Gilded Age, or the boomtown art collections of mid-century Texas. There is no anxiety about the status of American art, no looking to Europe for validation. There’s no embarrassment about the immense fortune that made the museum possible, no old-fashioned cultural money-laundering in the manner of Carnegie or Mellon. Nor is there any worry about whether the art is too conservative or too edgy. It is a mature, serious, relatively progressive museum launched at a time when increasing numbers of people consider themselves socially tolerant and fiscally conservative. It is a museum for people who are as comfortable with art as social experiment and provocation, as they are with untrammeled, winner-takes-all capitalism.
Lovely, and just in time for #OccupyWallStreet.
In general, I wish the tackled the art story-telling more, but hey, this is the Washington Post, if anyone can dumb down arts coverage and be an apologist for American hubris, it’s them.
Does America, particularly the American South, need to do more national naval gazing at a time when the world is getting smaller and the nation should be looking at building more than crystal bridges with the rest of the world? My thinking is no, but I’m glad the people of Arkansas and the surrounding region will have access to a free museum that has the resources to expose potentially new audiences to art.
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