The Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, an institution founded by billionaire Walmart heiress Alice Walton in Bentonville, Arkansas, will host its first-ever exhibition of architectural work next year. The museum, located on a sprawling campus designed by Moshe Safdie, announced its full 2022 temporary exhibition program last week—a lineup that also includes its first show dedicated to American fashion and an exhibit that explores connections between music and visual arts in Black cultural expression from the American South.
Architecture at Home, as the show is titled, will include commissioned works by five design firms with diverse leadership: studioSUMO, LEVENBETTS, MUTUO, PPAA (Perez Palacios Arquitectos Asociados), and studio:indigenous. Each firm was asked to examine the specific challenges and opportunities present in Northwest Arkansas and, in turn, develop a full-scale housing prototype that explores the potential of domestic architecture to address an array of local and global issues.
With a “focus on use of materials, scale, form, light, and interaction with the landscape,” according to the museum, the prototypes will reflect transformative, yet grounded approaches to how American communities might approach domestic architecture in the future. Environmental consciousness and “attainability” will take center stage in the six-month show, opening up the possibility that some of what is produced could one day become actual housing.
Curated by Dylan Turk, Architecture at Home will take place along Crystal Bridges’ outdoor Orchard Trail, where Buckminster Fuller’s experimental Fly’s Eye Dome is currently displayed. In addition to Fuller’s model, the immersive prototypes produced by each architecture firm will be accompanied by digital and physical materials that highlight their creative processes as well as communal understandings of home.
While the exhibition represents one of Crystal Bridges’ most thematically and physically ambitious projects since its 2011 founding, the museum also acknowledges its limitations. As stated on the museum’s website: “Neither the Architecture at Home exhibition nor the museum can single-handedly solve the problems of housing insecurity, sustainability, or access to attainable housing. In creating this exhibition, however, Crystal Bridges seeks to inspire greater awareness of what is possible for housing through research and experimental design.”
Architecture at Home will be on view at Crystal Bridges in Bentonville, Arkansas from May 7, 2022, through November 7, 2022.