Eleven is an important number for the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Not only is that Bentonville, Arkansas, gem the home to regional favorite restaurant Eleven, but the northern Arkansas spot first welcomed guests through its halls on November 11, 2011 — 11-11-11.
The event staff at the museum likes to joke that in terms of hosting small market meetings, on a scale of one to 10, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art easily comes in at 11.
“The combination of world-class art and architecture in an Ozark woodland setting really makes the museum stand out as a venue,” said Nathan Pollet, special events manager for the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. “Crystal Bridges is truly a one-of-a-kind facility. It houses a world-class collection of American art and several miles of walking trails through the forest surrounding the museum.”
The name of the museum is somewhat of a homage to the natural and architectural facets of the destination, blending the name of a nearby natural spring with the bridges incorporated throughout the building. The 200,000-square-foot museum is dedicated to celebrating the American spirit and is home to some of the most iconic works of American art from the past five centuries, including masterpieces by Asher B. Durand, Norman Rockwell, Andy Warhol, Georgia O’Keeffe, Roy Lichtenstein, and others. While the permanent collection continues to grow year-round, a series of ongoing temporary exhibitions help fill the rest of the 50,000 square feet of art exhibition space.
The building was designed by Moshe Safdie, a world-renowned architect, and is a combination of a succession of pavilions, spring-fed ponds, house galleries, a museum store, meeting and classroom spaces, and a large, glass-enclosed gathering hall. The space offers a mix of event possibilities in both natural and artistic settings, all executed with the museum’s distinct passion for promoting the true spirit of America.
With gorgeous views from each room looking out over the pristine Ozark landscape, Crystal Bridges is an excellent venue for weddings, corporate dinners, nonprofit fundraisers, holiday parties, concerts and business meetings. The venue boasts three landing suites, each at 495 square feet, equipped with drop-down screens and built-in projectors and perfect for groups of 20 to 60 guests; a boardroom and seminar room that are available by the hour and great for groups of 10 to 15 guests; and a great hall equipped with drop-down screens and projectors. The great hall is the largest space in the museum at 6,000 square feet and features a glass-enclosed space surrounded by water on three sides; it is ideal for groups of 60 or more.
Between meetings or before events, there is no shortage of chances to become immersed in Crystal Bridges’ extensive collection of American art. Aside from simply strolling in and around the venue, the museum offers guided tour options on Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for groups of 10 to 60 guests for $10 per person. A knowledgeable docent will explain and uncover the mysteries and meanings behind each work of art. For those looking for a more personal experience, the museum frequently negotiates private gallery time for after-hours groups and events hoping for a closer look at the masterpieces.
Catering and Dining
For a true taste of Americana, the Crystal Bridges of American Art’s on-site restaurant, Eleven, offers classic American dishes in a modern and fresh way. Eleven provides an on-site dining room available to meeting and event groups during the museum’s open hours and offers catering for all private events.
Nothing is off the table for the talented in-house catering company, from breakfast served at the conference table to a variety of lunch options to numerous reception packages. The restaurant even offers the option for a full-service buffet or a seated, plated dinner with wine, beer and cocktails available.
A Natural Approach
Location is everything in this world, and the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art uses its native Ozark landscape to advantage, seamlessly harnessing the power of art with the pristine splendor of nature. The clear glass walls that encase the museum allow a great deal of natural light to flood the museum’s interior, giving it a comfortable and refreshing warmth most museums lack. But even though it would be easy to simply gaze upon the natural landscapes surrounding Crystal Bridges, the best way to explore that slice of America is to head outdoors and get lost among the trails of the museum’s 120-acre park that links Crystal Bridges to downtown Bentonville.
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Location: 600 Museum Way, Bentonville, AR 72712
Type of Venue: Off-site; Museum
Capacity: 20 to 60 Guests
Nearby Accommodations: 21c Museum Hotel, Bentonville