Wednesday, December 26, 2012

DAY 123- From Wal-Mart to the St. Louis Arch...

The Crystal Bridges Art Museum didn’t open until 11AM, so I went instead to the Wal-Mart Museum which is housed in the original 5 And Dime in downtown Bentonville, Arkansas.  Downtown Bentonville is centered on a square where there is a Confederate statue in the middle of it.  It was covered with lines of light which in the middle of the evening turns into a large Christmas tree.  I parked, walked across the street, and through the front doors of the Walton’s old 5 and Dime Store.  It was a bit like walking back in time.  There were all the old candies and misc. other items that you would’ve found in an old neighborhood candy/toy like store.  There was also a whole new section where you could purchase souvenirs, postcards, and etc.  Unfortunately, there weren’t any bumper stickers but there was the Wal-Mart Spark.
Photo- The outside of the Waltons 5 and Dime Store which is now a WalMart Museum.

I went through the door and down a short hallway.  Off to the right was a continuously running minute movie that told a bit about the Sam Walton and the success of Wal-Mart.  After watching that film, I wandered into the actual museum and it was very interesting reading about how Wal-Mart in its current state came into being.  There were pictures of Sam, his brother, and mother.  Sam didn’t have an easy start to life.  They had a dairy and eventually worked towards having a shop that they ran with their mother.  A landlord didn’t allow them to renew a lease and they relocated to Bentonville.  It was here that they found Walton’s 5 And Dime that then eventually turned into a chain of Wal-Mart Stores around the world.  Of course, that’s the VERY shortened version of the story and it was very interesting reading about how it all evolved.
Photo- The little fountain shop at the end of the WalMart Museum.

The museum also went into some of the philosophies of Wal-Mart.  I was getting a kick out of the display concerning Wal-Mart’s return policy.  They will accept any return for any reason.  In this section, they had a hand mixer that was returned because the woman said that it was possessed.  There was a pencil sharpener that was returned because it failed to sharpen ball point pens.  There were six or seven other examples that were almost as funny but those were the ones that really stood out.  
Photos- The inside and outside of Crystal Bridges Art Museum.

Next, I was on the edge of Bentonville and driving down a wooded lane to the Crystal Bridges Art Museum.  It is an amazing place to visit for an artist and it’s all currently free which made that all the more amazing.  The museum is focused on American Artists and it was wonderful to see some originals by very well-known artists.  Some of the pieces are not the well-known pieces from some of the artist.  There’s a Georgia O’Keeffe but it is not one of her well known pieces.  Probably, the most famous original piece that they have on the premise is Rosie the Riveter by Norman Rockwell.  But there are several other fascinating pieces too.  In fact, one of the most interesting pieces to me was a playoff of a famous piece of artwork.  It was a hanging of string spools on a wall that at first just looked like a blob.  But then you would look through a glass sphere and it was the famous American Gothic by Grant Wood where you have the farmer couple with the pitch fork standing. 
Photo- Rosie the Riveter by Norman Rockwell.

I easily spent a couple hours in the art museum and they periodically change out parts of the collection as I was told as I was putting on my coat.  There’s security in every room but you are allowed to take photos as long as you don’t use your flash and you don’t touch the artwork.  They even venture in the literature to invite you to sit and enjoy and draw the art.  However, an easel is not allowed. 
Photos- Spools of threads that when you look through a glass sphere turn into American Gothic.

It was a fascinating place to visit and it’s even more interesting in how the building looks.  It’s a great deal of glass, wood, concrete and steel.  The compound of the museum centers on a pond like area where periodically you can look out on the pond either from a room with couches/chairs or a balcony that you can walk out to look upon it.  At the end of the museum there’s a large dining room hall area where you can eat.  Across from the entrance’s courtyard is a small wonderful little gift shop that has local Arkansas artist goods is available for purchase.  There’s also the fair amount of other items that you would find in any art museum gift shop too.

Next, I was on the road and through some back road like areas of northern Arkansas on my way to a little town called Eureka Springs.  Up through hills, valleys, and winding roads I went.  Quite often, I had to slow to 15mph for steep turning curves.  I arrived into this little town where there are Victorian houses built into the hillsides.  It very picturesque and there’s more bed and breakfasts per captia that I had ever witnessed in my life.  I visited one road side natural springs which I guess that there is several in the area that are within a short hike of the town area.  I wish I had more time to visit the area but unfortunately, I had already made reservations for the night in St. Louis and needed to be on my way.
Photos- Some of the Victorian houses in Eureka Springs, Arkansas.

It was about 8PM when I finally found my way to my hotel in St. Louis.  My hotel was downtown and was almost literally at the base of the St. Louis Arch.  I had a wonderful view of the downtown area from my hotel room.  I ended up doing a bit of walking in the downtown area.  I walked to a nearby bar and grill in the area called Calico’s.  I had a very late dinner and then walked back by where I could see the arch.  I didn’t venture into the park area itself because it was dark but it was a wonderful view but unfortunately it didn’t show up well when I tried to take a photo of it at night.  I would have to get a photo in the morning.

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