Every time I go and work or teach at a company whose name nobody knows (this beginning can be understood in the key of “En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme, no ha mucho tiempo que vivía un hidalgo”) – I always visit the local museum of American art. But those who know – they know that here is a gem among museums in the world. If I teach for many days, I am there every night. It is only nine minutes drive from work. It is called “Crystal Bridges.”
You are greeted by a metal tree and then a giant spider called “Maman.” Then you go on a tour, each art period separated from the next by a covered class bridge looking out into the garden.
Every time I pay attention to paintings that are different than what I noticed the day before. To me, the best article about the museum is still the 2011 New Yorker “Alice’s Wonderland,” I will refer the reader to it. But what I want to describe are the people who work there.
In other museums visitors’ chatting with the people working in the museum is not encouraged. To borrows a favorite expression from my daughter – not that it is forbidden, because it not forbidden – but you just don’t see this going on. At Crystal Bridges, the attendants will welcome you and tell you stories. How each painting was acquired by Alice Walton. How she always wanted it and never got a chance, but here she was, at a worldwide economy conference, and the conference was boring, and she strolled into a gallery, and the owner was selling the painting, and she simply disconnected his phone and so on.
They told me that last year there were more people from Europe than from the US.
They told me that Alice Walton used to personally conduct tours for the attendants when they were hired. Everyone you talk to in the museum is either learning about art, or writing books, or “doing” music. It is a popular hangout for the arts people. Here my selfie with a writer I met, he works in the museum after retiring from work. Here is his site. And here is a sculpture from next to the entrance door. It expresses the essence of love.