Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Parks and Recreations

(The title is apparently a US TV show about local government which I haven't managed to catch yet but is supposed to be good - and was appropriate enough for my day today). 

(Actually, scratch that, I've just watched an episode on Hulu - it's very good!)

Today I had my final meeting with the team at Bentonville City Council - with the Director of Parks and Recreation (see what I did there?).  An early start but well worth it to see parts of the City I've not seen yet on a combined drive and walk along the network of trails and seeing the city's extensive parks.  The City has had enough foresight to buy up distressed property when it comes on the market to enable it to be converted to park space and there are a range of different uses - including a dedicated dog park for "off leash" dog exercise. 

A couple of shots;

After this interesting start to the day I want to the WalMart museum at the original store - for a relatively small space there was a huge amount of information and history crammed in.  I did feel a little brainwashed at the end of it, but certainly shows a different side to the business and the man who founded it.  And it's very well curated and put together. 

Finally, the day took me to Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.  For the initiated (like me), this is a world class art museum built by renowned architect Moshe Safdie and funded entirely by Alice Walton, including a $1.4bn (yes, billion) endowment to enable free entry in perpetuity.  It's an extraordinary space built with great sensitivity to its location and a great collection as I hope some of the pictures below show -  a real sign of the commitment that the Walton family show to the locality that they come from and still live in.  

The location of the museum in such a perceived "backwards" place hasn't necessarily gone down well with the art elite on the East and West coast, as seen in this video from the LA Times.  

Kind of reminds me of the controversy in 2005 when the Royal Ascot horseracing meeting moved from their usual location to be at York racecourse for a year whilst its home course in Berkshire was being redeveloped.  This was great for me as it meant that I got to go to a race meet I wouldn't ever usually see but there were all sorts of comments like, "isn't it a long way away".  I distinctly remember John Humphreys on Radio 4 responding in unusually nuanced and subtle way, "well, it's not a long way away if you live in Leeds".  (I realise that that will be totally lost on my American readers - sorry).  Putting this new art gallery in Arkansas doesn't mean that it's "out of the way" if you live in, say, Fayetteville or Memphis or Oklahoma City... 

Anyway, enough provincial chip-on-shoulder ranting, it's been another great day, need to plan tomorrow's fun now!

No comments:

Post a Comment