Children’s Museum of Bentonville
The city of Bentonville, Arkansas creates a hometown feel with all the perks of a metropolis but with way less traffic. Bentonville has numerous museums ranging from American art to indigenous culture to children's hands-on imagination and I got the pleasure to see them all! These museums are only a few short miles apart from each other.
Crystal Bridges displays American art from colonial times to the present. It gets its name from the natural spring water in the area. The buildings are resting on two spring-fed ponds. Before entering the museum, I viewed the distinct structures from a balcony. The rare shapes of the roof tops and grey concrete walls stood out from the Ozark forest trees. At the entryway, I was greeted by a giant spider so large it was peering over the museum. The mama spider is carrying eggs on her abdomen seen from underneath. Inside the museum, I felt the passion the artists' had from their meticulous painting strokes; each painting had impressive detail.
I wandered to the connecting trails leading to a children's museum named Scott Family Amazeum. There are several exhibits to explore including the Nature Valley Water Amazements where water is doing everything it possibly can; it spills, sprays, pours, and flows. I walked around the soaked framework, trying not to get too damp. I headed to The Art Studio where I painted on a large glass wall. I enjoyed not being restricted by a canvas and having an entire sheet of glass to paint! The most popular thing to do at the Amazeum is the Hershey Lab. Here little scientists get to participate in a self-guided experiment. To burn off even more energy there is a Cave and Canopy Climber. I grabbed a flashlight and entered the dark cave to discover what lurks inside. There were a few critters not normally seen during daylight. Then, I experienced climbing high on leaf shaped platforms with safety wiring. I was blocking several children from as I tightly crawled from leaf to leaf. In my defense, I had a disadvantage not being as small as them. From the view on the top platform I could see the entire 50,000 square foot museum. It was pleasant to see all the parents and children interacting together in play.
The Museum of Native American History houses a huge collection of artifacts. In fact, the museum holds one of the largest collections of stone tools. Upon entering, an enormous Wooly Mammoth skeleton trumpeted a Hello to me. Starting with the Paleo historic period, I saw the tools and practices used for agriculture and hunting. There are gobs of stone and bone tools that get more advanced throughout the history of Native Americans. I noticed pottery was of great importance during these time periods. It's truly incredible to see these objects knowing they were not made by manufactures. On the outside of the property sits a detailed tipi. The museum gives children permission to find arrowheads around the tipi to take home. There are plenty of intriguing artifacts and history for all ages to admire.
In the heart of it all lies the Walmart museum in the downtown square of Bentonville. The old Walton five and dime store is the front for the gallery. Nostalgic candy and toys cover the walls from floor to ceiling. I couldn't help but grab a bag and start filling it. Sam Walton's life is displayed with pictures, awards, and even his old pickup truck. He believed in being frugal so he could charge less while saving his customers money. It's inspiring to see a display of dreams created by a simple thought. Sam Walton had a passion for many things; ice cream was one of his top enjoyments. The museum flows into an ice cream soda fountain shop called The Spark Cafe'. My favorite part of the museum! I ordered a scoop of Spark ice cream, which is a bright blue and yellow colored ice cream that tastes like French vanilla. A perfect ending to a sweet vacation!
Andrea Albino is a freelance journalist, contributor at In The Know Traveler and Editor in Chief at The Luggage Tag, where she documents her recent travels and explores the greater Houston area. She believes families should not wait to travel and the time is now! Andrea is married with two active little girls. When she is not writing or planning adventures she is an active member of the community as a school volunteer and youth sports coach.
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