Travel + Leisure's list
includes Toronto, Canada; Hamburg, Germany; Xishuangbanna, China; and Panama. The magazine states, "From southern China to Arkansas, here are the must-see travel destinations of 2012."
The only "must-see" destination in the United States is Bentonville, Arkansas
. What appealed to T+L, that made this town in the Ozarks a new "hot spot," is the recently-opened Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
. As noted by T+L, "Culture is also making over places such as Bentonville, AR, which Walmart heiress Alice Walton has graced with a free world-class museum of American art on 120 wooded acres."
Waiting for visitors at the end of 600 Museum Way is a giant silver tree by Roxy Paine that greets guests at the museum's entrance.
The architecture of Crystal Bridges is a masterpiece in and of itself; yet the beautiful buildings housing the galleries are filled with masterworks that are unsurpassed in American art. The collection includes pieces from the colonial era through the twentieth-century as well as contemporary art.
multiple-millions for many of the masterpieces in Crystal Bridges, including Asher B. Durand’s “Kindred Spirits” from 1849, which she purchased for $35 million. A close-up of "Kindred Spirits" is featured below.
The gallery housing contemporary pieces includes Lynda Benglis' "Eat Meat" (1969/1975, cast aluminum) and Kara Walker's "A Warm Summer Evening in 1863" (2008, wood tapestry and felt).
Benton County, Arkansas is home to the City of Bentonville. Both of which, according to
Shiloh Museum of Ozark History, are "named for Missouri senator Thomas Hart Benton, who had a key role in persuading Congress to admit Arkansas to the Union in 1836." It may seem that I am digressing here, but there is a connection. Works by Senator Thomas Hart Benton's nephew, Thomas Hart Benton
, can be seen at Crystal Bridges including "Ploughing It Under" (1934; reworked 1964, oil on canvas).
Travel + Leisure stated that Walton hedged "her if-you-build-it-they-will-come bet" by having Moshe Safdie design the museum. Walton's bet appears to be paying off. She built it, and they are coming to Bentonville by the thousands. A Jan. 11, 2012 post on Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art's Facebook page
indicates that since the museum opened on 11-11-11 it "has welcomed more than 95,000 guests from all over the world!" And, interestingly, travelers are coming to Bentonville, Ark. from countries that Travel + Leisure listed as travel destinations, such as the four nation's mentioned earlier.
Leopold Grozelier's "Arkansas Traveler" (1859, hand-colored, toned lithograph) is featured at the museum, and, according to a sign at Crystal Bridges, "The legend of the Arkansas Traveler has long been central to Arkansas's mythology. The song and image associated with the legend is embraced by many as a celebration of Arkansas hospitality."
Should you be among the "culture seekers from around the country" who travel to Bentonville, Ark., you will be welcomed with open arms and have the opportunity to experience hospitality and American art at its finest.