BENTONVILLE, Ark. — From gritty fashion to futuristic home architecture, several exhibitions will debut at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in 2022, as the tourist hot spot continues to tap into the nation’s conscience.
“Every year we try to present new and exciting subject matter, and (2022) is no exception,” said Beth Bobbitt, the museum’s public relations director. “Visitors with an interest in the evolution of American fashion, music and art in Black southern culture and contemporary architecture, will not be disappointed.”
Unlike theme parks, an award-winning museum such as Crystal Bridges must remain relevant each season by offering new exhibits, programs or expansions.
“Crystal Bridges is a place for learning and engagement, respite, social connection and inspiration,” Bobbitt said. “Our collection is roughly 3,500 objects and it’s important to frequently change the artwork so we can showcase new and diverse works to tell a more complete story of the American spirit.”
“Fashioning America: Grit to Glamour” will be the museum’s first exhibit dedicated to fashion. It runs from Sept. 10, 2022, to Jan. 30, 2023.
It examines how American fashion accessories — the cowboy boot, the two-piece bathing suit, sneakers, denim jeans, the Zoot suit and flowing Hollywood gowns — became, and remain, powerful global visual cultural icons, as seen through movies, television and social media.
“Fashion is a powerful form of American artistic expression and Crystal Bridges, with its mission to embrace a more expansive vision of American art, is the ideal museum to broaden and diversify the American fashion story,” guest curator Michell Tonini Finamore said.
Another Crystal Bridges first will be an exhibit dedicated to architecture. “Architecture at Home” can be seen free of charge from May 7 through Nov. 7, 2022.
Five prototype homes built by five architecture firms, each 500 square feet in size, will be exhibited along the Orchard Trail found on the museum’s grounds, and visitors will be allowed to enter and explore each structure.
“‘Architecture at Home’ is exciting because it is the first time we are stepping into the world of contemporary housing,” curator Dylan Turk said. “As an art museum with a deep focus on stories, this exhibition will construct space for guests to experience the power of architecture, while provoking conversations about how people from all backgrounds live. The exhibition centers humanity with some of the best architects in the Americas, who are working to make houses more accessible to more people.”
A third planned exhibit, “The Dirty South: Contemporary Art, Materical Culture, and the Sonic Impulse,” runs from March 12 to July 25, 2022.
According to a Crystal Bridges release, the exhibit examines “aesthetic and musical traditions of early 20th Century Black culture, influences now common throughout the American South and contemporary American art and culture.” It will feature sculptures, paintings, works on paper, assemblage, textiles and music, including instruments, lyrics and music videos.
Returning for its third straight year, the North Forest Lights will be open from Sept. 1 of this year through Jan. 2, 2022. For the past two years, more than 191,000 visitors have enjoyed this nighttime walk through five light and sound installations and a communal food and beverage area called the Village, located in the North Forest.
“Visitors are attracted to immersive experiences, which many of these exhibitions have — as does North Forest Lights,” Bobbitt said. That one “has been hugely popular, and we’re excited to bring it back for the third year. The light, sound, and sensory effects is captivating in the natural forest setting and makes for a wonderful family-friendly experience.”