Best known as the birthplace of the Walmart chain, Bentonville, AR has blossomed into a booming town with plenty of cultural and culinary attractions. Despite the town's relatively small size, it offers everything from beautiful parks and trails to world-class art and history museums. A visit to the town wouldn't be complete without a stop at the iconic Walmart Museum, but it would be a shame to pass through without stopping at the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art as well. Whether you're visiting on business or for pleasure, here are the best things to do during your time in Bentonville. Certain attractions may be temporarily closed or require advance reservations. Some restaurants are currently offering pickup only. Hours/availability may have changed.
1. Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR
2.Frank Lloyd Wright Bachman-Wilson House, Bentonville, Arkansas
3.Hobbs State Park, Bentonville, Arkansas
4.Museum of Native American History, Bentonville, AR
5.Scott Family Amazeum, Bentonville, Arkansas
6.Slaughter Pen Hollow Trail, Bentonville, Arkansas
7.The Peel Mansion Museum & Heritage Gardens, Bentonville, Arkansas
8.The Walmart Museum, Bentonville, Arkansas
9.Onyx Coffee Lab, Bentonville, Arkansas
10.Things To Do in Bentonville, Arkansas: 21c Museum Hotel
11.Things To Do in Bentonville, AR: Bike Rack Brewing Co.
12.Things To Do in Bentonville, Arkansas: Bizzy B's Bakery
13.Things To Do in Bentonville, Arkansas: Flying Fish Seafood
15 Best Things To Do in Bentonville, Arkansas
- Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR, Photo: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
- Frank Lloyd Wright Bachman-Wilson House, Bentonville, Arkansas, Photo: Courtesy of peshkov - Fotolia.com
- Hobbs State Park, Bentonville, Arkansas, Photo: Courtesy of bonniemarie - Fotolia.com
- Museum of Native American History, Bentonville, AR, Photo: Museum of Native American History
- Scott Family Amazeum, Bentonville, Arkansas, Photo: Scott Family Amazeum
- Slaughter Pen Hollow Trail, Bentonville, Arkansas, Photo: Courtesy of fottoo - Fotolia.com
- The Peel Mansion Museum & Heritage Gardens, Bentonville, Arkansas, Photo: The Peel Mansion Museum & Heritage Gardens
- The Walmart Museum, Bentonville, Arkansas, Photo: The Walmart Museum
- Onyx Coffee Lab, Bentonville, Arkansas, Photo: Courtesy of phatpc - Fotolia.com
- Things To Do in Bentonville, Arkansas: 21c Museum Hotel, Photo: 21c Museum Hotel
- Things To Do in Bentonville, AR: Bike Rack Brewing Co., Photo: Bike Rack Brewing Co.
- Things To Do in Bentonville, Arkansas: Bizzy B's Bakery, Photo: Bizzy B's Bakery
- Things To Do in Bentonville, Arkansas: Flying Fish Seafood, Photo: Flying Fish Seafood
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of luzitanija - Fotolia.com
Attraction Spotlight: Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Located in Bentonville, AR, the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art aims to inspire all people to enjoy the American spirit through the power and beauty of nature and art. Visitors will experience a permanent collection of American works spanning from the Colonial era to the present day.
The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art was founded by the Walton Family Foundation in 2005 as a non-profit organization for everyone to enjoy. Through the help of many patrons and philanthropists, alongside the museum’s board of directors, the museum was officially opened to the public on November 11, 2011 (11-11-11).
The building, which is a series of outdoor pavilions built alongside two spring-fed ponds, was designed by the famous architect, Moshe Safdie. The pavilions house the various galleries, classroom and meeting rooms, a large glass meeting hall, a museum store, and a restaurant.
There is also a library which houses more than 50,000 reference volumes and an enclosed glass bridge which allows visitors to admire the ponds. The surrounding area features a walking trail and sculpture garden within a 120-acre park linking the Museum to the downtown Bentonville area.
Currently, the Museum welcomes hundreds of thousands of visitors a year, a fascinating series of rotating exhibitions, and a variety of educational programs. The surrounding nature is breathtaking, making the Museum one of the most beautiful to visit in the nation.
Colonial to Early 19th Century Gallery:This gallery features pieces from the permanent collection from the early 19th century and the Colonial Era. Some highlights from the collection include a sculpture by Giuseppe Ceracchi featuring Alexander Hamilton circa 1794; a portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart circa 1797; and an oil painting by Jasper Francis Cropsey entitled The Backwoods of America circa 1858.
Late 19th Century Gallery:This gallery features pieces from the permanent collection from the later part of the 19th century. Some highlights from the collection include many oil on canvas works featuring landscapes and portraits by artists such as James Henry Bear, Everett Shinn, and William Trost Richards. A plaster portrait of Annie Page circa 1895 by Augustus Saint-Gaudens is also featured in this collection.
Early 20th Century Gallery:This gallery features pieces from the permanent collection from the early part of the 20th century. Some highlights from the collection include works by abstract artist, Georgia O’Keeffe. There are many sculptures made from wood, marble, steel, bronze, plaster, and clay all on display from various artists of the period, including John Bradley Storrs and Agnes Pelton.
North Exhibition Galleries:This gallery features a large variety of works from a vast spectrum of mediums. Nam June Paik has a life-size robot sculpture, circa 1995, on display in this gallery. The robot,John Cage Robot II, is constructed out of old cabinets, electronics, wood mushrooms and miscellaneous instruments and paint.
1940s to Now Gallery:This gallery features pieces from the permanent collection from the 1940s decade to current works. Some highlights from the collection include some pieces of modern and contemporary artwork by artists such as Gene Davis, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, and Frederick Eversley. A large variety of mediums is also represented in this gallery.
Outdoor Art:This gallery features all of the sculptures on display throughout the 120-acre park and sculpture garden. There are dozens of fascinating and unique sculptures made out of all kinds of materials.
Chihuly:This exhibition is featured in two parts in the Ozark Woods and is on display throughout the summer at Crystal Bridges. Artist Dale Chihuly is world-renowned for his innovative public installations throughout various museums and gardens. This exhibition will feature many of his extensive and colorful installations throughout the gardens, galleries, and the outdoors.
Stuart Davis: In Full Swing: This exhibition features the works of modern artist, Stuart Davis and the works he produced in his career of more than 60 years. Witness the bold he used on canvas to express his love for jazz music. This exhibition will be on display from September 17, 2017 until January 1, 2018.
The Crystal Bridges Museum provides educational programming year-round for children of all ages. There are a large variety of lectures, classes, performances, and community education and art programs. The Museum also offers a few scholarships for those who are studying, researching, or pursuing a degree in the arts.
Approximately 45,000 schoolchildren attend one of these programs each year at the Museum. There are also plenty of resources for teachers, including the ability to plan specialized class field trips.
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, 600 Museum Way, Bentonville, AR, 72712, Phone: 479-418-5700
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Attraction Spotlight: Museum of Native American History in Bentonville
Located in Bentonville, Arkansas, the Museum of Native American History aims to preserve artifacts and objects from the vast history of Native American tribes. The museum hopes to educate visitors about the early years of North America, before it was “discovered” by European explorers, when the land was inhabited by American Indian tribes.
Visitors can expect to find unique displays, interactive exhibitions, and many exciting educational activities as they explore the vast and early history of Native Americans in this specialized museum.
The Museum of Native American History officially opened its doors to the public in 2006.
The permanent collection of the Museum of Native American History is divided into 6 prominent time periods during the reign of the American Indian tribes. The items featured in each collection are as follows:
Paleo Period:This time-period (12,000 BC – 8,000 BC) is best known as the time of the Woolly Mammoth! This period is when the history of America begins – with a man who walked in upright – the Paleo man. During this time, small nomadic groups of people made their livelihood off hunting the woolly mammoths. There are many exciting items from this time-period represented at the Museum, including a stuffed woolly mammoth, weapons and tools.
Archaic Period:This time-period (8,000 BC – 1,000 BC) is best known as the time when the natives were hunters and gatherers. The native tribes had founded more permanent villages and had to adapt their diets when the large herd animals, such as mammoths, went extinct. There are many artifacts on display from this time-period including tools used for woodworking, food processing, hunting, and gathering. This period is also marked by the unique used of hardstones and banner stones to craft these tools.
Woodland Period:This time-period (1,000 BC – 900 AD) is best known as a prosperous time full of expansion and growth for the tribes. Agricultural techniques, cultural achievements, and the establishment of large, permanent villages marked a time of stability and societal structure. Burial ceremonies were also becoming more common, which meant that historical proof of these times have been found underground! Some artifacts from this time-period are on display at the museum including woodland pipes, axes, celts, darts, and knives.
Mississippian Period:This time-period (900 AD – 1,450 AD) is best known as a time when large, organized societies were formed. Population was at an all-time high, agriculture and hunting were producing more food than ever before, and the small villages had started to become cities with protective walls. Pottery, art, and craftmanship became popular and the style is unique to the Mississippian tribes. Sadly, towards the end of this time-period, most of the population had been wiped out by disease, leaving only their artifacts behind. There are many pieces of pottery on display in the museum from all three of the main tribes during the time: Mississippian, Caddo, and Quapaw.
Historic Period:This time-period (1,650 AD – 1,900 AD) is best known as the time when the Native tribes had their first initial contact with the European explorers. Tribes that lived during the time include the Sioux, Cherokee, and Cheyenne. It is not known exactly what happened to the rest of the Mississippian tribes and their great empires – the best estimate is depletion of resources and an increase in disease. This trend continued when the Europeans introduced the Native tribes to horrific diseases like influenza and smallpox.
However, some of the most intricate and beautiful art was produced during this period and many items from this time on display in the museum, including headdresses, beadwork, quillwork, and Lone Dog winter counts.
Pre-Columbian:This era explores the migration of ancient tribes outside the borders which is now known as the United States. There were many tribes who explored Central America, Mexico, and South America way before the arrival of Christopher Columbus. There are any artifacts on display from tribes like the Mayans, the Incas, The Aztecs, and the Colima Dogs.
Education and Programs:
Since the mission of the museum is to educate visitors about the vast history of Native Americans, there are many educational opportunities and programs. The most educational option is a guided tour with high-tech audio/visual equipment. The guide will take visitors through more than 14,000 years of history in an exciting and fun way!
Museum of Native American History, 202 SW 'O' Street Bentonville, AR 72712, Phone: 479-273-2456
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Attraction Spotlight: The Walmart Museum
Located in Bentonville, Arkansas, the Walmart Museum aims to educate, inspire, and educate visitors about the heritage and future of the Walton Family and their world-recognized Fortune 500 company – Walmart. Visitors will experience a variety of exhibits and story-based displays to educate and entertain guests about the history, influence, and impact of Walmart.
The Walmart Museum was founded in 1990 and is proud to tell the story of Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, and the realization of his American Dream.
The story of Walmart begins in the 1940s during World War II, when Sam Walton was graduating from college and starting his first job as a manager at J.C. Penney. He decided to quit his job and enlist in the Army in 1942. Sam’s brother, Bud, was already serving as a Navy pilot in the South Pacific at that time.
In 1945, Sam opened his first Ben Franklin retail store in Newport, Arkansas. Two years later, his brother followed suit in Versailles, Missouri. The stores are doing consistently well, but in 1949, the Walton family needed to search for a new location to open the store. So, in 1950, the family opened the Walton’s 5&10 shop in Bentonville, Arkansas.
Through the remaining years, the Walmart franchise continued to expand rapidly. The brothers opened store after store through the mid-west and by the start of the 1960’s, Sam had 8 stores and was earning about $1.4 million annually in sales.
When the retail revolution hit in the 1960’s – Walmart as we know it was officially born. Throughout the 60’s and 70’s, Walmart stores began popping up all over the United States, and today there are thousands of locations around the globe.
The Early Years of Sam Walton: This exhibit features a large collection of photographs and artifacts that tell the story of Sam Walton’s birth in 1918 and his early years growing up Kingfisher, Oklahoma.
Family Partnership: This exhibit focuses on the beautiful partnership between Sam Walton and his wife Helen. Their strong relationship built the unshakable foundation of which Walmart is built upon. Their story is told in detail in this exhibition.
Starting on a Dime: This exhibit features the story of Sam Walton’s first chain store – a Ben Franklin franchise in Newport, Arkansas.
Walmart is Born: This exhibit tells the story of how Sam came up with the idea to found a discount market in rural areas – the idea behind Walmart. The early years behind Walmart in rural Arkansas are told through a series of photographs and artifacts.
Swimming Upstream: Although Walmart is an extremely successful now, the idea behind it was revolutionary and controversial at the time. This exhibit tells the story of how hard it was to generate the necessary support to launch the premise behind Walmart.
Taking the Company Public: In the early 1970’s, Sam had begun expanding Walmart so rapidly that it required stock investments to increase the revenue stream.
Everyday Low Prices: This exhibit is a detailed video that explains the origins of the motto “Everyday Low Prices”.
Sam’s Letters: Sam prided himself on staying close with his employees and associates. He maintained this connection through a monthly magazine entitled “Walmart World” in which he wrote letters to the troopers discussing various topics.
A Billion Dollar Company: In the year 1984, Walmart officially became a billion-dollar company. To mark this huge achievement, Sam made good on a promise to “do a Hula on Wall Street”.
Corporate Giving: The Walmart Foundation: The Walton family founded the Walmart Foundation in 1979 in order to give back to the community by giving less fortunate people access to a better life.
Our People Make the Difference: This exhibit features the Walton’s practice of interacting with their employees on the front lines. A series of photographs documenting his visits to various stores make up this exhibit.
Sam’s Truck: This exhibit features the beloved pick-up truck that Sam drove for most of this life.
Sam’ Rules for Building a Business: This exhibit features the tools laid out by Sam in his book which teach readers how to build a successful business.
Touchstones of Walmart Culture: This exhibit features the importance of the culture behind Walmart.
Family Legacy: The Walton Family Foundation: This exhibit tells the story of the Walton family legacy – from the founding of a billion-dollar global company to the Walton Family Foundation.
A Global Company: This exhibit tells the story of how Walmart expanded into a global company in 1991.
1992: This year was very important to the Walton family, definitely one to remember, this exhibit documents Sam winning the Medal of Freedom.
The Walmart Oral History Project: This documentary project tells the exciting story of the the countless hours and people it took to build Walmart.
The Walmart Museum, 105 N. Main Street, Bentonville, Arkansas 72712, Phone: 479-273-1329
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