Thinking of Murano Glass in Arkansas is quite strange, but thinking of Murano Glass in Bentonville is even stranger!
Bentonville is one of the most cosmopolitan small cities in America and is also where hundreds of Walmart suppliers have set up corporate offices. It is also the city where Alice Walton, the Walmart scion grew up and without knowing it she is the one who created the connection between Bentonville and Murano Glass.
In 2009 she offered Don Bacigalupi the job of director of her Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. Bacigalupi used to run the Toledo Museum of Art in Toledo, Ohio, one of America’s famous cities for glass art.
In 2006 the TMA opened the postmodern Glass Pavilion which can be considered the Glass Museum by excellence as it hosts more than 5,000 works of art from ancient to contemporary times. From Murano glass jewelry pendants to important works like the stunning Fred Wilson mirror made of black Murano Glass are featured in this “glass museum”
Bacigalupi himself along with his partner Dan Feder have proven to be oustanding Murano Glass collectors themselves. Upon moving to Bentonville, once they finished renovating the house designed in 1954 by Cecil Stanfield, a Modernist architect, they showcased their 450 Murano glass pieces on the second-story ledge. Everyone driving through town would have a clear view of the colorful glass art collection.
Their house could not only be confused with a glass museum but even with a store: once somebody walking by while still setting it up asked them when their glass art store was going to be opened.
Maybe Don Bacilugi and Dan Feder might consider opening a Murano Glass Museum showing all their beautiful glass art works to the public and Bentonville might become another important glass art center or American glass museum center.
Interesting how Murano Glass ends up in the most unthinkable places.
For more details on Don Bacigalupi and Dan Feder’s story in Bentonville read the New York Times article A Bold Move dd 27th March 2012.