Kicking off March 16 through July 29, Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art will open Exquisite Creatures, a three-dimensional exhibition that celebrates nature’s infinite variety. Created by artist and naturalist Christopher Marley, the show features more than 400 individual objects of preserved plant, animal and mineral specimens, including crystals, lizards, beetles, parrots, butterflies, crabs and much more. The stunning mix of colors and textures will be arranged in precise geometric compositions, creating a mosaic of the natural world intended to inspire wonder and foster a desire for preservation.

 

“I believe visual enjoyment of the natural world is one of the most effective tools for motivating learning and understanding,” said Marley. “With Exquisite Creatures, we’re inviting Crystal Bridges visitors to immerse themselves in a world where order, diversity, symmetry and balance come to life in vibrant, awe-inspiring displays. I couldn’t be happier to share this exhibition with the Arkansas community – I hope everyone who sees it is inspired to develop a deeper connection to the outside world.” 

 

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Christopher Marley, Reef Sharks, 2016. Carcharhiniformes sp. 48 in. x 96 in. © 2024 Christopher Marley | exquisitecreatures.org

 

Throughout the exhibition, guests will have the rare opportunity to view many wondrous creatures up close, prompting them to take a deeper look at their environment. While Exquisite Creatures is on view, Crystal Bridges will also celebrate biophilia, the love of life, through various community programs, including an art-making activation with “Creature Kits” at local libraries and a Cocktail Crawl in partnership with local restaurants. 

 

Additionally, the museum will host an opening lecture given by the artist on March 15, a Creature Fest on March 16, a week of spring break family-centered activities, K-12 school tours of the exhibition where students can create their own exquisite creature to be displayed in the museum, and special programming encouraging outdoor exploration of the institution’s own trails and grounds. 

 

“The experience of and appreciation for nature is central to our mission at Crystal Bridges,” said Samantha Best, landscape and outdoor experience manager for Crystal Bridges. “The museum is situated on 120 acres of native Ozark forest, which includes natural springs, streams, geographical features, and a host of native plants and animals. Through Exquisite Creatures, we’re giving our visitors the unique opportunity to view the diversity of our grounds with a fresh set of eyes. We’re thrilled to host this exhibition and encourage guests to reflect deeper on the intricate beauty of the outdoors.”   

 

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Christopher Marley, Ontogenesis, 2016. Butterflies. 30 in. x 64 in. © 2024 Christopher Marley | exquisitecreatures.org

 

Crystal Bridges’ Trails and Grounds are accessible year-round and are a must-see part of the museum experience. Click here to learn more about the institution’s surrounding areas.

 

Tickets to the new exhibition are $12 for adults. Members, SNAP participants, Veterans and youth 18 and under are free. To purchase a ticket, please visit the museum’s website. SNAP participants, please call (479) 657-2335 to enroll for free entry to temporary exhibitions. For more information on the exhibition and its upcoming programming, please visit the exhibition webpage.

 

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