The Art Trail to Crystal Bridges is lovely, an easy half mile from downtown Bentonville to the museum.

#1 son, #1 daughter, and I went there this afternoon. I rejoined the Presbyterian church and made a financial pledge, so I felt happy and settled when we arrived, and the walk added to the overall sense of wellbeing.

Looking back on that, it sounds rather odd, but I have been feeling unsettled in terms of my church and music life for some time. So it was a bit of a relief to have it settled.

So we set off cheerily down the path. There were lots of dogs and babies and people and a decidedly festival air.

We stopped into the amphitheater along the way. It has heated seats and they hold son et lumiere shows there in the evenings a couple of time s a week.  The artist who created it has made similar installations elsewhere, but always in private settings. This is the only one in a public place.

From here it was a very short walk to the museum, with just a bit of waiting at a few sculptures along the way.

There were children climbing on there and having their pictures taken.

I loved it that kids were so welcome throughout the museum. We were allowed to take photos as well, and to get right up near to the artworks and gaze on them admiringly.

Everyone can go in for free right now, too.

The museum is still under construction, but it’s a wonderful building and filled with wonderful things.

#1 son told us that there was bad feeling about the museum, and I did look around the internet and found some ill natured talk.

“Crystal Bridges,” people said, sounded like a stripper’s name, and I guess that’s true, though that’s not what the builders were thinking of.

There were also people who felt that art treasures by Wyeth and Grant and O’Keefe and Rockwell and Sargent and Cassatt and all shouldn’t be out in the country like this. I think they’re wrong. The setting is stunning, it’s not far from the airport, and we deserve a museum as much as anyone else, don’t we?

There are galleries for Colonial era paintings, 19th century, 20th century, and “World of Wonder,” which has moatly 21st century, but more than just the time, things that are odd and remarkable.

I enjoyed the collections of John La Farge and Thomas Hart Benton best, I think, but it’s hard to choose.

#1 son said it was almost overwhelming. We walked for three hours through the galleries.

We’ll need to go back soon, I think.

The last art museum I visited was the one at the Vatican, so I wasn’t especially ready to be impressed, but I really was.

There’s a cafe and a store, and the trail leads not only to the museum but also, at the other end, to a botanical garden. If you find yourself in the vicinity, you’ll find that there’s plenty to occupy you for the day. Then you can visit the battlefield parks and our very lovely woods and things. We have a couple of other botanical gardens, and some nice little historical museums as well.

In other news, our educational website has been wildly popular with Yahoo searches for “vampire babies.” What’s up with that?