Crystal Bridges Announces $2M Gift, Vision For Momentary

(Crystal Bridges)
(Crystal Bridges)

Walmart Inc. of Bentonville on Thursday donated $2 million to The Momentary, a new contemporary arts venue by Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art scheduled to open in early 2020.

Officials said design and site work on the project is now complete, with the new construction phase underway.

The money from Walmart will be used to provide free general admission for all visitors to the multi-disciplinary visual and performing arts space. It will also be spent on festivals, major exhibitions, artist programs culinary offerings and more, officials said.

Crystal Bridges announced plans to transform the 63,000-SF Kraft Foods plant into the contemporary arts venue and artist residency program in 2016. The name and director of the venue was announced in August 2017.

A preview concert before the official opening is scheduled for fall 2019.

Tom Walton of the Walton Family Foundation spoke during a press event Thursday morning.

"The Walton Family Foundation is supporting this project as a way to enhance the quality of life in Northwest Arkansas," he said. "Our commitment to cultivating arts and cultural experiences provides more opportunities for education, engagement, and enjoyment in our region."

Rod Bigelow, Crystal Bridges executive director and chief diversity and inclusion officer, said the venue "will add new and complementary offerings, and extend the story of contemporary art right up to the moment. We are grateful to Walmart for their support to help bring artists, innovators, and the community together and to further position Northwest Arkansas as a unique arts and cultural destination."

Wheeler Kearns Architects of Chicago is overseeing project, which will include galleries, studio space for artists, a small black box theater, kitchen, café, rooftop bar and flexible indoor gathering areas plus an outdoor space for concerts, festivals and community events. A video preview of the construction progress is available here.

"The Momentary encourages an experimental approach with the flexibility and space for artists to engage with the community and each other in meaningful and unexpected ways," Lieven Bertels, director of The Momentary, said in a news release. “By preserving the industrial integrity of the architecture, we are embracing the history of the building. We're also exploring our unique identity. Since, the mission of the Momentary is to champion contemporary art's role in everyday life, our logo is based on the type of signage found in a factory setting and present all around us, while the iconic arrows in the logo come together to form the M in our name."