Bentonville, Ark. — On Feb. 22, Northwest Arkansas will add yet another cultural venue to its inventory, further solidifying its standing as one of the Midwest’s premiere arts destinations.

The date marks the opening of The Momentary, an adaptive reuse project in which an old cheese factory was converted into a multidisciplinary, contemporary arts venue and satellite of Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art. It’s located at 507 S.E. E St. and is connected to Crystal Bridges through the Razorback Regional Greenway trail.

The venue will give Northwest Arkansas a solid standing as the go-to place for arts and culture. In addition to Crystal Bridges, considered among America’s world class art museums, the immediate Bentonville area offers the Scott Family Amazeum, an interactive children’s museum; the Walmart AMP (Arkansas Music Pavilion), which brings in national performing artists; and 21C Museum Hotel, which has rotating contemporary art exhibits and site-specific art installations. The town also hosts the annual Bentonville Film Festival, which attracts Hollywood A-listers and entertainment industry notables.

Like Crystal Bridges, The Momentary is the vision of the Walton family, heirs of the Walmart empire. Crystal Bridges was the brainchild of Alice Walton, daughter of Walmart founder Sam Walton. The Momentary is the inspiration of Olivia Walton and her husband, Tom, and her brother-in-law, Steuart Walton, nephews of Alice. Both venues are supported by the Walton Family Foundation and both have free general admission through grants from the Walmart Foundation.

Not unlike Alice’s vision for Crystal Bridges, the idea for The Momentary was to elevate the quality of life in the region by cultivating superlative arts and cultural experiences, leading to economic growth. While Crystal Bridges exhibits art collections from colonial times to present, the Momentary will focus singularly on contemporary visual and performing arts. Crystal Bridges will continue to offer exhibits of contemporary work, but The Momentary will push the boundaries of it and keep the pulse of current art trends.

Located along the Razorback trail, near the 8th Street Market, The Momentary occupies the former Kraft Foods plant. As an adaptive reuse project, Wheeler Kearns Architects of Chicago was assigned to repurpose a factory into a 21st century arts space, blending old with new to preserve the industrial integrity. Remnants of the old building, such as exposed pipes, remain visible, yet new age sustainable elements were incorporated to reduce the carbon impact on the environment. That includes a bioswale, which turns and cleans rainwater that runs into a nearby creek.

The Momentary will house galleries and studio space for artists, concert and theater spaces and a black box theater, a café and rooftop bar, and multiple gathering areas. The outside Momentary Green will include spaces for concerts, other performances, and multi-day festivals. It will also feature sculptures.

Among the new venue’s offerings will be an artist-in-residence program, in which visual artists from around the world can take up residence to work on new projects in one of three studio spaces. The residency will include performing and culinary artists who can occupy space outside of the three studios.

Opening weekend of The Momentary will feature a multidisciplinary festival, Time Being, which includes art and dance, music and theater performances, both inside and on The Momentary Green.

The inaugural exhibit will be State of the Art 2020, a follow up to Crystal Bridges’ 2014 State of the Art, a massive project in which museum curators traveled thousands of miles and visited hundreds of studios, seeking to find America’s up and coming artists. The 2014 exhibit featured 102 contemporary artists and spawned a PBS documentary, State of the Art, released last year.

The new edition of the State of the Art will be exhibited at both Crystal Bridges and The Momentary.

When curators began the journey to find artists who represent what art is about in the new decade, they began to see general themes — concepts of world-building, mapping, sense of place, and temporality. These themes drove the selection of 61 artists, presenting more than 100 works, some of them site-specific in response to the interior architecture of both spaces and regional history.

Admission for State of the Art 2020 is free at both The Momentary and Crystal Bridges. Tickets for the Time Being festival must be purchased for the separate events, but they include access to The Momentary and State of the Art 2020 exhibit. They range from $15 to $35, depending on the event. For a list of performances, visit The Momentary website at www.themomentary.org.

Memberships to The Momentary begin at $75, which grants a 20% discount on ticketed shows, events and festivals, among other benefits. They may be purchased through The Momentary website. The venue will be open 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sundays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays and 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays. It will be close on Mondays.

Memberships in Crystal Bridges are separate and begin at $65. They can be purchased at www.crystalbridges.org.

Marta is an arts columnist for The Joplin Globe.

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