On 120 acres of Ozark woods in Bentonville, Arkansas, outside Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, giant snow globes—see-through domes so large that eight people can pile into one for dinner—sprout from the woodland floor.
“You walk the forest,” says Sandy Edwards, Crystal Bridges’ senior director, “and then you get into your globe. From the globe, you can see the whole collection lit up.”
That outdoor collection includes Dale Chihuly’s Fiori Boat, a colorful explosion of blown-glass strands inside a canoe, and Sole d’Oro, a sun-like orb; as well as Alyson Shotz’s Scattering Screen, stainless steel circles knit together with wire, refracting and reflecting the surrounding trees. Additionally, a collaboration with the Montreal-based multimedia studio Moment Factory, dubbed the North Forest Lights show, presents five light-art installations synchronized to original music, including Whispering Tree, a singing tree; Memory of Water, a water simulation that flows through a dry creek bed; and The Hearth, lights shaped like a fire that visitors encircle as if to warm their hands.
The vinyl snow globes come furnished with wrap-around couch seating and a menu that includes a Black Angus chili and a Forest PB&J: peanut butter and strawberry jam on grilled Texas toast. And what was last year a welcome pandemic reprieve has taken on new meaning for the community. “We wanted to create this multi-generational immersive experience,” Edwards says. “And then last year it was one of the only safe things our community could do during Covid.”
Although reservations for this year’s Bentonville snow-globe dinners have sold out fast, similar snow globes (sometimes called igloos) have popped up all over the South, including at the Adolphus Hotel in Dallas, where Miracle On Commerce offers cabins, igloos, cocktails, and s’mores on the roof; Bobby’s Hotel in Nashville, where Camp Bobby resembles a 1970s camping site (and there’s an ice skating rink); and Publico Kitchen and Tap in Columbia, South Carolina, where igloo dining is a holiday-season hit.
Edwards calls the snow globes outside Crystal Bridges “some joy during a difficult time.” She adds, “There’s something here for everyone. All it requires is being present.”