When PC Labels Hog Art’s Spotlight

Early American Gallery with We the People by Nari Ward. (Courtesy Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art)
Crystal Bridges, a great museum, should ditch the preachy wall panels, let the art speak for itself — and let visitors think for themselves.

NRPLUS MEMBER ARTICLE W hether new or old, most museums are struggling today over how to present their permanent collections, both how the art is arranged and what the wall text tells us. Crystal Bridges in Bentonville in Arkansas is no different. It has a first-rate American art collection from the colonial period to today, and on my visit last month it seemed it was trying new ways, some good, some bad, some weird, to interpret what it shows.

Today, gender, race, justice, repudiation, and revenge are some of the new filters through which American art is called to pass. At the same time, self-righteousness


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