Can’t Contain Creativity

Can’t Contain Creativity

Museum maintains arts engagement


“In some ways, we’ve been preparing for this since the inception of Crystal Bridges,” Beth Bobbitt shares.

Bobbitt is the public relations director of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville — an institution that, while unable to open its doors to the public during social distancing guidelines, found itself unexpectedly prepared to share abundant content with visitors in a virtual format.

“One of the first things that we did for Crystal Bridges and the Momentary as soon as we were closing down the physical space is to go online and pull all of those resources together into a couple blog posts, so people could just have one click and see all the online resources [they] could start looking at,” explains Diane Carroll, chief communications and marketing officer at Crystal Bridges.

Among these “dozen or more ways” art lovers can engage with the museum from home include browsing the museum’s full permanent collection online, take virtual tours of the museum, getting to know artists through videos and interviews and finding and utilizing education and craft resources to keep young minds busy.

“The truth is that these are formats we work in all year long,” Carroll says. “We’re always creating online resources to complement what’s happening on site at Crystal Bridges and the Momentary, so there was a lot of great content there already, and then we’re adding to it.”

Though the museum is closed to the public through at least April 17, the trails on Crystal Bridges Museum’s grounds are still open from sunrise to sunset. Museum staff ask that guests continue to adhere to social distancing guidelines, as advised by the CDC, when visiting the trails.
(Courtesy Photo/Crystal Bridges Museum)

As the museum began shifting fully to online, team members were acutely aware they would be entering a newly overcrowded online marketplace. Where people used to engage with the arts through a mix of physical and virtual visits, now people are stuck at home across the globe, and institutions of all sizes, categories and locales are augmenting their web presence to accommodate the effort to avoid cabin fever.

“Part of it for us was to look at who are we,” Carroll reveals. “What’s your brand? What’s authentic? What do your friends and fans and followers want to hear from you? So we asked people that on social media, and they basically said they wanted us to continue to provide the kind of content that we typically do.”

For Crystal Bridges, she explains, that’s maintaining a broad perspective of American art — from historic to artwork being created this year. For the Momentary — Crystal Bridges’ sister space which had been open less than a month when the closures were announced on March 16 — that typical content means continuing to show the community what artistic offerings and experiences can mean beyond a stationary piece of visual art.

Mix with that a focus on nature, a dash of architecture and a “lighthearted, fun and even humorous” approach, and you’ve got the online perspective the museum staff have carefully cultivated to match (as closely as possible) the experience guests have when they visit the museum.

Carroll says the goal is to connect fans to the art via a means that is “not scholarly or too serious, but in a way that feels engaging to people right now.”

To that end, Crystal Bridges’ blog is one of the best places to stay up to date with the museum.

“We’ve updated our Pinterest page (left) to have some easy art making projects that are related to American artists,” explains Diane Carroll, chief communications and marketing officer at Crystal Bridges.

Carroll assures the websites for Crystal Bridges and the Momentary have been made as user-friendly as possible to get any and all resources to online visitors efficiently.

“The social media marketplace is so crowded right now, it’s one of those times it can be important to curate,” she muses. “What do you want to get served up on a regular basis? What’s helpful and meaningful to you? On our social media sites, we try to keep that focused on providing an online version of what you could always experience physically so that we have that continuity.

“The arts continue to provide that very important connection to creativity, and you can come to them in search of whatever it is that you need,” Carroll poses of using the arts to help get us through trying times. “Artists have always provided those variety of ways that people can come have experiences that feed their soul.”

Feast your eyes, feed your soul, calm your mind and stimulate your creativity with these resources by staying connected to Crystal Bridges — all available at

For your eyes:

• eMuseum — Browse the museum’s entire collection of art by categories such as what’s on view, artist or create an account and save your favorites.

• Social media — The museum’s social media accounts are the fastest way for Crystal Bridges to provide updates directly to followers. Staff will continue to share news and content about art, architecture, nature and more, while staying part of the social conversation during quarantine through channels like Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube.

• CBVR — Or, Crystal Bridges Virtual Reality. The museum offers unique virtual reality experiences that can be viewed through a VR device, or simply, watched as a video, for two paintings, R. Buckminster Fuller’s Fly’s Eye Dome, and the Frank Lloyd Wright House on the grounds.

For your ears:

• Audio tours — CB Museum is a free app featuring a selection of audio and video tours of the museum’s permanent collection. CB Outdoors is a free app offering interactive trail maps, art and plant guides and audio-tour information about many of the features of Crystal Bridges’ grounds. Both apps are available through the Apple and Android app stores.

• “Museum Way” Podcast — Crystal Bridges’ podcast, “Museum Way,” has taken a hiatus the past few months but offers exclusive interviews and behind-the-scenes stories with staff and guests about the workings of the museum.

For your hands (or feet):

• Crafts — “We’ve updated our Pinterest page to have some easy art making projects that are related to American artists,” Carroll explains. “We’re also looking at sharing some how-to videos for what parents can do with materials that they likely already have laying around the house that relate to the type of experiences they might have had at Crystal Bridges.”

• Trails — The trails on the grounds of Crystal Bridges, as well as the outdoor spaces surrounding the Momentary, both connect to the Bentonville trail system and public parks, and both remain open from sunrise to sunset. Did you know there are more than 30 sculptures found along Crystal Bridges’ trails?

For your brain:

• “C” — “C” is Crystal Bridges’ member magazine offering content on upcoming exhibitions, features about the artworks in the museum’s permanent collection, and artist interviews. Several years of magazines are archived on the website.

• Google Arts and Culture — The Crystal Bridges page on Google Arts and Culture offers a selection of stories about some of the museum’s paintings, as well as collections of artworks to browse.

• Education Resources — “We’re mindful that there are a lot of parents working with their kids on school work these days, a lot of families looking for things to do,” Carroll sympathizes. “So there’s really a wide range of things that are more intensely educational, to things that are more just family fun.” Find assets through the museum’s Classroom Connections resources, through the Reese Fellowship Website partnership, video essays through Smarthistory, and more.

Go Online!

Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art

Categories: 'Tis the Season