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Sunday, August 7, 2022

Campus

UH architecture lecture discusses art education


UH alumnus and former Blaffer Art Museum Director Don Bacigalupi drew from his experiences of working at the Museum of American Art to describe how art can be used as a teaching tool at a lecture Tuesday.

UH’s Blaffer Art Museum, Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture and the School of Art worked in collaboration to bring about the reception, which was hosted in the Gerald D. Hines College of Architecture Theater.

Bacigalupi is the new director of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Ark— an immensely complex designed by architect Moshe Safdie.

Crystal Bridges, he said, was the dream of the primary benefactor, Alice Walton, the only daughter of Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton.

Alice Walton had been collecting American art for a number of years. Through the Walton Family Foundation, the museum was granted 120 acres of land to use for construction.

It includes nine pavilions that expand into the ravines. The visitor experience consists of indoor and outdoor exhibitions, with four miles of trails that include hiking, mountain biking, scenic nature sites, and a number of educational pavilions.

“It’s nature, art and architecture coexisting in form of one another in a welcoming and accessible environment,” Bacigalupi said.

The museum’s permanent collection consists of five centuries of American art around the five buildings.

The collection includes artists Martin Johnson Heade, Pat Musick, Charles Wilson Peale and Norman Rockwell.

“We usually don’t value the collections monetarily, we know what they cost but we don’t typically think of those values,” Bacigalupi said. “We think of the educational value and the opportunity to teach from the collection.”

Bacigalupi stated that though Alice Walton lives in Texas, she is fully involved in the development of the museum. She is the chair of the board and a large portion of her private collection has been put on display at the museum on loan.

The choice of American art comes from a sense of pride in the American story and the American dream that the Walton family has lived. Alice has always been involved in art, even as she began to study it as a child. American art was a natural fit for her tastes.

The location in Northwest Arkansas was based on a sense of teaching and educational possibilities.

The museum was funded through a mission focused on

ARCHITECTURE continues on page 9

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