Terra Studios opens Bluebird of Happiness Museum

Terra Studios opens Bluebird of Happiness Museum
MONICA HOOPER/APRIL WALLACE
mhooper@nwaonline.com

awallace@nwaonline.com


Just southeast of Fayetteville is one of the most whimsical places in all of Northwest Arkansas. With happy little trolls, a labyrinth, and a wizard’s cave and chair, Terra Studios is perhaps most well known for its iconic (and trademarked) Bluebird of Happiness. A museum dedicated to the iconic little glass birds opens Sept. 24 with a two-day grand opening event.

The drop-in celebrations from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. will include live music with Bruce Allen and friends on Sept. 24 and with Keefer Dean Roach on Sept. 25 as well. Laura Gehrke, executive director of the nonprofit, says that there will be art demonstrations with Maura Miller and Holly Freeburg as well as activities for both adults and kids — including a bluebird craft where visitors can make their own bird of quick drying clay.

“We’ll have an assistant in there that will help demonstrate how to shape it properly to form a bluebird, and they’ll be able to take it home that day,” Gehrke adds. There will be coloring sheets for kids, too.

Refreshments, including goodies from Ozark Natural Breads and Nellie B’s, are available at Terra Studio’s main gallery, and the grounds are great for picnics. Artwork from 120 regional artists and books by local authors are for sale too.

The Bluebird Museum will be housed in the old education building at Terra Studios, located at 12103 Hazel Valley Road in Durham. (The address is often listed as Fayetteville.)

“There will be bluebirds on display in the museum — some of our older styles of bluebirds and some that are discontinued that we don’t actually have for sale anymore,” Gehrke says. “The purpose of the Bluebird Museum is to showcase the beloved Bluebird of Happiness and educate visitors on the history and how they were made, including the equipment, process and various designs of bluebirds over the years. This will be shown through videos, displays and informational posters.”

She emphasizes that they have not stopped producing the birds, but that they are looking for a way to produce the birds in an ecologically healthy way.

“How can we have happiness if we don’t care for our children, grandchildren and the planet itself?” she asks.

“It’s important that people understand that at our scale of operation running the furnaces isn’t like flipping a light switch. The furnaces have to be at 2000 degrees all the time, day and night, every day. That’s a lot of energy wasted for a few hours per day of creating bluebirds. Some alternatives do exist, but they are not feasible on our scale of operation. We will continue researching new technologies and have even discussed short runs if we can find a way to be extremely efficient.”

She adds that there are little birds in a variety of styles and colors for sale in the main gallery.

“We built up plenty of inventory once we arrived at the decision to shut off the furnaces,” she adds. “We have not run out of bluebirds as some people feared.”

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FAQ

Bluebird of Happiness Museum

Grand Opening

WHAT — A two-day drop in celebration for the opening of a museum dedicated to the Bluebird of Happiness, which was created by artist Leo Ward in 1983 at Terra Studios. Events include live music, a pinch pot class ($10), a bluebird-themed art lab ($3) and artist demonstrations by Maura Miller and Holly Freeburg.

WHEN — 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 24-25

WHERE — 12103 Hazel Valley Road in Durham

COST — Free, but donations to the nonprofit are welcome; bluebird prices vary

INFO — usingart.org

Categories: Galleries