A Moshe Safdie-Guided Tour of the Crystal Bridges Museum

Though the Washington Post beat them to having the first review, and let’s just ignore the recent news of founder Alice Walton‘s DWI, Architectural Record has scored a personal tour through the soon-to-open Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art by none other than the architect himself, Moshe Safdie. AR is far more positive than the Washington Post in their review of the highly anticipated museum, which opens at the start of next month, though they admit that it’s a bit tricky to really judge how the space will actually function since it’s still in the midst of wrapping up construction. They’ve also included a handful of photos, if you’re eager to take a look but don’t have plans to visit rural Bentonville, Arkansas anytime soon. Here’s a bit from their early look:

Ambitious as it is, the museum is never overbearing. It contains some of the loveliest galleries since Safdie’s Peabody-Essex Museum opened in Salem, Massachusetts, in 2003. At Crystal Bridges, the two main exhibition spaces parallel the stream, in long, gently curved rooms that seem to hold back the surrounding hillsides. Their roofs, supported by the timber beams, curve gently downward toward the river, mimicking the shape of the valley and giving the curators a variety of wall and ceiling heights to work with. They have used the low walls for paintings by the likes of Frederic Church, Thomas Eakins, and Winslow Homer, and the high walls for monumental pieces by Louise Nevelson, Joan Mitchell, and others.